Human resource departments have several different tasks on their plates entering the new year. One of the most significant projects is updating employee handbooks for new and current workers. When an employee handbook is organized correctly, employers can usually avoid all sorts of legal issues down the road.
Incorrect or poorly written employee handbooks can end in discriminatory hiring practices or inadvertently creating illegal employee contracts. Here are three tips to help the employee handbook revision process:
1. Update social media and confidentiality policies
According to the National Labor Relations Board, certain social media uses are protected activity. Suppose an employee handbook has not been up-to-date in years. In that case, it might be missing critical information on confidentiality laws, reported the Phoenix Business Journal. A well-written handbook could protect discussion concerning pay and benefits, and employees might be leaking protected information.
Businesses can set in place enforceable trade secrets, noncompetes, and nonsolicitation agreements. Employee handbooks should identify the types of agreements to ensure compliance. Still, the employee handbook should clearly protect the company’s business interests, and agreements should not be too broad.
2. Hiring and firing standards
Businesses want to have the chance to attract the best possible employees. According to HR Morning, they should not discriminate against race, color, age, sex, disability, national origin, or religion. When an employee handbook is well-written, it should always mention that they are an equal opportunity employer. Companies should also clearly specify that no guarantees during the interview process can negate the employment-at-will concept. It should always be clear that providing false information during the employment process is grounds for termination.
A company’s termination policy will be the most scrutinized in the employee handbook. According to HR Morning, several employees who deserve termination collect massive wrongful discharge awards. These awards are because the company didn’t follow the correct steps or didn’t state the right information in their policy. HR departments should protect themselves by always noting that offenses not listed can result in termination.
3. Dress code policies
According to HR Morning, dress codes are mandatory for several companies. Still, they cannot impose standards that appear to be discriminatory or offensive. Dress code policies should be based on legitimate business needs and prioritizing employees’ safety. Employers should never force sex stereotypes or ignore religious convictions. Finally, it’s always a good idea to welcome employee input on the dress code policy.
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