Why Your Company Needs an Updated Handbook

Posted October 17, 2016

A company handbook is like a rulebook for a sports league. It identifies your company's boundaries, offers guidance for best practices and explains what appropriate behavior is. It can discuss everything from your payroll schedule and vacation policies to regulatory guidelines you are mandated to follow.

Creating a handbook not only gives your employees a set of rules and practices to follow, it also helps safeguard a company from liability if a worker is injured while breaking the rules. Simply creating a handbook won’t cover a business totally, however. Management must ensure its workers understand the policies and these policies are reviewed each year.

A company should also evaluate and update its handbook each year since laws and regulatory policies regularly change. If reviewers identify sections that aren't relevant anymore, or they're unclear, they should be rewritten to clarify or alter the policies.

After the handbook is updated, the new version should be distributed to workers, and workers should confirm in writing they understand the updates.

Management also has to follow the policies it lays out. If a handbook is distributed, but its practices and procedures aren't followed, the company will have a poor defense when confronted with a dispute from an injured worker.

Though a worker handbook can be daunting to put together, it is priceless in solving complicated issues, resolving arguments and offering a solid defense against baseless claims.

Areas to focus on when reviewing the handbook

While a company should consider all aspects of its business when reviewing a handbook, there are a few particular areas the business should focus its attention, including areas concerning equality, employee conduct and attendance.

Businesses should ensure handbook policies follow all federal, state and regional government laws with respect to equality. For instance, "sexual orientation" is a protected class in some states, but not in others. A handbook should indicate those classifications and include a general phrase, like "all other classification safeguarded by law," in the event a protected class has been overlooked.

A handbook should also describe the method for a worker to file claims of harassment and misconduct. It is important that workers know there will be no retaliation for filing a complaint, unless it is without merit and submitted maliciously.

A handbook also needs to lay out attendance and overtime policies. Excessive absences may result in termination. However, any attendance policy must adhere to both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act. The employee manual should also say which workers are entitled to overtime pay as to not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A handbook should also prove a process for granting overtime work. While unapproved overtime has to be paid for hourly employees in most instances, a worker can still be reprimanded for neglecting to obtain the required overtime approvals.

At Ambassador, we assist our client companies will all kinds of human resource functions, including the maintenance of guidelines for our contract workers. If your company needs a custom staffing partner, please feel free to contact us today to work with a full-service staffing agency!