Essential Policy Updates for Your Employee Handbook
It’s important to review, revise, and recirculate the employee handbook every year. Federal, state or city regulations change year to year. Regular review of company policy prevents them from becoming outdated and leaving your business vulnerable to expensive litigation. Here are policies that should be reviewed in your employee handbook.
Local, state and federal compliance policies
Be on the lookout for changes throughout the year on federal, state, and local levels. Review your policies regularly to assure compliance with current federal requirements for wages, workplace safety, privacy, and benefits. If you do not know the current laws, consider outsourcing your HR handbooks. An over site of current changes in the law can be costly. Violating a mandatory federal, state or city regulation can result in fines or litigation.
Currently, the following states have enacted paid leave legislation: Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont and Washington. Expansions have been made on the acceptable reasons for leave beyond the an “employee illness” to include more parental and family leave. In addition, most states define minimum thresholds for amount of leave, when an employee can begin to earn and use leave, balance carryover, and rate of pay for leave hours taken. Companies in these states need to check the individual state requirements, and ensure you are meeting all the state specifications.
Dress code policy
There’s a fine line when it comes to creating a dress code policy. Limiting certain styles of clothing based on gender could alienate employees and potentially lead to a discrimination lawsuit. It’s important to adhere to an established legitimate, and non-discriminatory business reason for your dress code policy.
Social media policy
Social media is changing quickly. Make the policy as flexible as possible to help you to maintain your ability to handle different situations. A social media policy should be clear on the expectations of your company for acceptable employee use as it relates to the company. A general policy that states that social media should be done in a responsible manner, and restricting use of social media during work time or while using company-provided equipment. A separate policy should be in place for your company’s social media accounts. Moderators should have directions on representing your brand responsibly and guidance on responding to negative comments.
Cell phone policy
An increasing number of companies have a crossover between personal and work phones. Phones that are used for work purposes, but the phone plan cost are reimbursed by the company are not the property of the company. Therefore, if you suspect the phone is being inappropriately used, you cannot ask an employee to hand over the phone to investigate. It’s technically their personal property. Your company can control the use of devices that are directly issued by your company to the employee. You may want to issue the phones through the company (rather than reimbursing employees for personal phone plans) for increased control over how the phones are used.
Employee handbooks are important. Regular review, revisions, and recirculation of the employee handbook is necessary to stay in compliance. Keep them from becoming outdated.