Handbook Updating for 2016


Now that the end of the year is approaching, it’s time to check your handbook to see what needs updating.  Whether it’s the implementation of new laws, or the Affordable Care act, there are areas that the employer should review and edit for the year of 2016.  As a service to our clients, we provide guidance and updating of handbooks, to make sure that all of the policies are up to date with current laws.


Areas to Cover with Most Scrutiny


-       Email, Social Media, and technology use policies.

o   The NLRB came down with guidance in March of this year.  If your handbook has not been reviewed since then, it likely contains some language that, while seemingly innocuous, violates the National Labor Relations Act, even if you don’t have any union employees.  

-       Wage & hour rules and policies.

o   The US Department of Labor is set to change the rules for exempt employees in 2016.  Ensure that you are good grounds going into whatever changes eventually come.

 -       Equal Employment Opportunity rules and policies.

o   The EEOC received the highest amount of retaliation claims on record for 2014.  It will likely remain an area of concern.

 -       Policies to help remain union free.

o   The NLRB changed some of the rules regarding solicitation on the worksite.

 -       Vacation and sick leave policies.

o   Keep up with the burgeoning number of sick leave laws in varies states, counties, and cities.

 -       Leave laws and policies  

o   Ensure that your policies kept up with the changes to FMLA and other leave laws in the past year and clarify what is required if an employee is covered by multiple types of leave.


Additional Areas to Review

The following areas should already be core to the employee handbook, so it would be a good idea to ensure that all of these basic policies are updated and clearly defined to avoid any possible issues with employees. 

-       At-Will statement

o   Avoid breach of contract claims by former employees and grant you flexibility.

 -       Anti-Harassment and discrimination policy

o   Don’t give employees a chance to plead ignorance, claiming they didn’t know certain behavior was improper.

 -       Attendance

o   Make it clear to your employees what the expectations are and what the consequences are for not following them.

 -       Drug and Alcohol Abuse policy

o   Make sure it complies with any state or municipal rules as well as the ADA.

 -       Workplace Violence policy

o   OSHA requires employers to maintain safe workplaces. 

 -       Disciplinary policy and procedure

o   Allow yourself the flexibility to skip steps in a progressive discipline program so you aren’t locked into a problem employee.