When was the last time your organization’s employee handbook was updated? If the date is unknown, then it’s way past time to make the necessary changes. If the employee handbook remains out of date, the chances that it could become a harmful liability increases exponentially.

Employee Handbook’s Purpose

It is important to note that employee handbooks should not be drafted as employment contracts. They should be written in clear, easy-to-understand language so that employees can quickly find information about:

  • Attendance policies
  • Employee conduct (within and outside work)
  • Disciplinary action

However, employers should be careful to include language stating that all information found within the employee handbook is subject to change at any time without notice. Once the handbook is updated to reflect these changes, make sure it addresses up-to-date issues.

Updates for Current Affairs

For some organizations, current affairs do not always appear to apply. That is a dangerous position to take. “Hot topics” like the #MeToo movement and LBGTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies) may not impact the organization today but can tomorrow. The best policy is to be proactive.

This year make sure to have clearly stated stances on the following issues:

Social Media

As our “real-time” digital world grows, so too does the chance to cause irrevocable damage to reputations and therefore livelihoods. Always using caution when posting on social channels is the best policy. Therefore, always be crystal clear on what is and is not acceptable in online behavior in the employee handbook.

Medical Marijuana

With more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, all organizations must have an updated drug policy reflecting current laws and the organizational stance in relation to those laws.

Active Shooter

During the past year, active shooter situations have touched all types of gatherings. Places of work are no exception. Make sure to have updated policies and procedures in place to be prepared in the event lives are at stake.

Telecommuting/Remote Workers

To stay competitive and to retain and attract talent, organizations often consider flexible work options. If the organization is in the position to allow telecommuting and/or remote workers, make sure to have clear guidelines so everyone is on the same page.

State Specific Legislation

Make sure to address state-specific laws in the employee handbook (e.g. “ban the box” and conceal and carry laws) in order to stay in compliance with local laws.

In addition to these current issues, review the employee handbook completely and make sure all information is current. This way your organization will establish the right expectations with all employees and be proactive, mitigating risk.