Overview: It is important for employers to develop and institute a comprehensive set of HR policies and procedures to guide the conduct of both employees and supervisors in the workplace and protect both employers and employees. Standard policies and procedures also ensure that similar situations are dealt with in a consistent manner and the employer's business runs efficiently. The workplace policies and procedures should be memorialized and may be provided in the employee handbook or other document given to employees and/or supervisors.
An employer may want to develop different HR policies and procedures for different groups of employees depending on the department that they work in, whether or not the employee is part of a union, and whether or not the employee is an exempt or non-exempt employee. Workplace policies and procedures may cover such varied topics as discrimination and harassment, social media use, employee benefits, compensation, employee discipline, affirmative action, FMLA and employee leave. While workplace rules provide employees with standards of conduct that must be followed, policies and procedures are usually more formal and provide supervisors and management with a standard manner of handling frequent situations. Workplace policies and procedures should also carefully lay out the consequences and discipline that employees and supervisors may be subject to for violating a workplace policy.
Trends: Employers should be aware that changes in society, technology and the law may require employers to revise existing policies and create new ones. We live in a society in which our technology and the way we connect with others in changing rapidly. As a result, employers must constantly revisit their policies with respect to electronic communications and social media use. Employment policies on employee benefits and compensation also may need to be frequently updated based on changes in the law. Further, based on the fact that the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act significantly expanded the definition of an individual with a qualified disability, workplace policies regarding managing employees with disabilities should also be reviewed and revised on a frequently basis.
Beth Zoller, J.D., Legal Editor
XpertHR has updated its content to reflect Colorado's recently enacted law protecting the social media privacy rights of both employees and applicants.
Colorado has joined the growing trend among the states to protect the social media privacy rights of employees and applicants. Employers are now prohibited from demanding access to an employee's or applicant's personal social media account or service through his or her personal device.
XpertHR's Maryland content has been updated in the Employee Privacy, Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct, and Preemployment Screening and Testing sections to include a new law permitting the use of medical marijuana in the state, effective October 1.
A new Maryland law effective on October 1 that permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes may have an impact on workplace policies regarding employee drug use and testing.
XpertHR has added several new documents to its stable of resources on internal investigations, including a How To on conducting internal investigations, an internal investigation checklist, an internal investigation policy to be distributed to employees and FAQs dealing with common issues that arise with investigations.
Internal investigations are crucial for employers in responding to allegations of workplace misconduct. This internal investigations policy document informs your employees as to the purpose of conducting investigations, what their rights and responsibilities are during investigations and how the employer will use the results it obtains in the course of investigating. Having an effective policy is the first step toward conducting an effective investigation.
The Arkansas Employment Law Manual sections for Employee Privacy, Employment Offer and Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates have been updated to reflect a new law that limits employers' rights to employees' personal social media account information.
Arkansas has joined the increasing number of states such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Utah and New Mexico that have passed a social media privacy law prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring current or prospective employees to disclose usernames and passwords to their social media accounts or to provide access to such accounts.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to send a strong message to employers that the right of both union and nonunion employees to engage in protected concerted activity extends to social media communications.
Guidance on creating and implementing HR policies that provide employees and supervisors standards and procedures with which they should comply.
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