Overview: In order to effectively manage employees and supervisors, employers should develop a set of work rules to govern conduct at work. These work rules can be conveyed in an employee handbook or personnel manual as well as through memos to employees and supervisors and other forms of communication. Work rules may address attendance and tardiness, dress codes, grooming and personal appearance, workplace violence, political activity, gambling, workplace dating and nepotism, the use of employer provided equipment and vehicles, monitoring of electronic communications and social media use, harassment, prohibited conduct, moonlighting and off duty conduct, and leaves and time off from work. It is necessary for employers to institute rules to ensure that employees and supervisors receive fair and consistent treatment in frequently encountered situations. Employers should make sure that employees have a clear understanding of the work rules and expectations of behavior as this will serve as a defense for the employer if issues arise.
Trends: Employers should understand that certain work rules are required based on federal, state or local law. For example, it is generally advisable and in some states even required for employers to institute a work rule that harassment is strictly prohibited. Further, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) as well as complementary state law require that employers implement work rules that will address employee safety and security as well as workplace violence. Employers should be aware of these requirements and make sure to comply with their legal obligations.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Updated threshold, statement and guidance to reflect the ban of discrimination based on the wearing of any religious attire, clothing or facial hair in accordance with religious requirements and amendments to the equal pay law, effective October 8, 2019; and amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law, effective October 11, 2019.
Updated to reflect Connecticut's strengthening of sexual harassment prevention requirements, effective October 1, 2019; and New York's ban on discrimination based on the wearing of any attire, clothing or facial hair in accordance with religious requirements and additional amendments under the New York State Human Rights Law, effective October 8, 2019, and October 11, 2019, respectively.
Two former Wendy's employees have filed a lawsuit in Illinois against the restaurant chain claiming that the way that the company stores and handles biometric data violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Updated to reflect provisions regarding nondisclosure agreements, effective October 11, 2019.
Updated to reflect proposed regulations that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) tip regulations.
Updated to reflect forthcoming Menlo Park notice-posting requirements.
Updated to include Fremont notice-posting requirements.
As mandated by the City of Fremont, covered employers must post the Fremont, California, Minimum Wage Poster.
Connecticut employers seeking to demonstrate their commitment to a workplace free of harassment and to comply with Connecticut law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Tennessee employers that want to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace and take advantage of certain protections by adopting an abusive conduct prevention policy that meets certain standards should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
HR guidance on implementing work rules that effectively address employer objectives and provide employees and supervisors with guidance as to acceptable and unacceptable workplace conduct.