When is the last time you updated your employee handbook to reflect changes in labor laws and new benefit trends? We offer tools to help!
Now that we are one full quarter into the new year, how are you doing with those year end HR resolutions? Statistics vary, but the success rate for annual resolutions falls somewhere between 8% and 40%, with most good intentions falling by the wayside in the first month or two. You may have deferred a few of your HR resolutions, but one that should stay front and center is updating your HR Handbook. SHRM offered a helpful list of the Top 10 Employee Handbook Updates for 2016, with tips for each. The 10 identified issues include:
- Collective Bargaining
- Social Media and Data Privacy
- Reasonable Accommodations
- Wages and Payroll
- State-Specific Laws
- Leave Benefits
- Smoking and Marijuana Use
- LGBT Rights
For more on new handbook issues and trends, see What Emerging Issues Are Making Their Way into Handbooks?
“Paid sick leave tops the list of emerging issues addressed in respondents’ handbooks, with an impressive 79.4% addressing this new legal trend in their handbooks. Data privacy was second with 67.2%, and social media was a close third at 64.2%.
Wearable technology, such as so-called smart watches, has not yet made its way into handbooks in any significant way, with only 4.1% of respondents indicating they have incorporated this emerging technology into their handbooks.
BYOD, at 14.5% of respondents, LGBT protection at 17.2% of respondents, and e-cigarettes at 20.6% of respondents, all front-burner issues by some accounts, were addressed by only a fifth or fewer respondents in handbooks.
Although medical marijuana, now legal in nearly half of the states (yet still against federal law), was expected to be a challenging issue for workplaces, only 6.4% of respondents have explicitly addressed it in their handbook.”
The Who, When, and How of Employee Handbooks
By Whom Are Handbooks Prepared?; How Often Are Handbooks Reviewed and Updated?; How Are Handbooks Distributed?
Jon Hyman of Ohio Employer’s Law Blog recently brought up an important issue: Is your employee handbook a contract of employment? Well, does it have a disclaimer?
“Is your handbook a contract of employment, or a compilation of discretionary policy statements? The answer depends on whether your handbook has a disclaimer telling employees that they are at-will and cannot rely on the handbook as a contract.”
For more on the important issue of disclaimers, see:
- Why Your Offer Letters and Employee Handbooks Have Disclaimers
- Do you know? Handbook disclaimers
- Make Sure Your Handbook is NOT an Employment Contract
- Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too? Handbook Contract Disclaimers & Mandatory Arbitration Policies
In 2015, one important issue that raised quite a bit of commentary in the Employment Law community was the NLRB report on handbooks. Eric B. Meyer sums it up in 39 Reasons Why Your Employee Handbook May Violate the Law
“The National Labor Relations Board issued a report this week from General Counsel Richard Griffin, Jr. replete with examples of how your employee handbook is overly broad and violates the National Labor Relations Act.
The purpose of the report is to educate employers, with recent case developments, on what can and cannot be included in an employee handbook.
What can’t be included is anything that could chill your employees from discussing the terms and conditions of employment with one another. That’s because the Act give employees, union or not, the right to do that.
What follows below are the highlights from the report, grouped into some of the various policies that may appear in your employee handbook”
More commentary on the NLRB Handbook Report
- Employers may not like NLRB General Counsel report on handbook rules
- Does no good deed go unpunished under the National Labor Relations Act?
- New NLRB Handbook Guidelines—Do You Need to Reword Your Policies?
Handbook tools & best practices
Here are a few resources to help with your handbook updates.
- Check Over This Employee Handbook Checklist
- Reviewing employee handbooks checklist
- The Employee Handbook—Best Practices
- Best Practices to Follow When Creating or Revising an Employee Handbook
- Handbook Not Enough—You Must Train Supervisors
- 8 common employee handbook mistakes, and how to avoid them
- 12 Common Mistakes to Avoid for Your 2015 Employee Handbook