Your Employee Manual Can Be Your Best Offense

by Joe Killinger

Your company’s employee manual is your company’s best offense for potential liability issues from your employees down the road.  If you already have a manual, I would recommend making sure it is current. If not be sure to update it right away, and I would highly recommend getting it online and accessible to all employees ASAP if not already.

Your employee manual is one of your most important attributes to your business being a success as it will help build a foundation of trust between the employer and the employee. With your employee manual being one of the standard ways that your organization will inform your employees about all the laws and regulations that they must adhere to, it is essential that the right policies and regulations are included and the information is presented clearly and correctly.

I would recommend your Employee Manual contain at a minimum:

1. Local Laws

Include the local laws.  Most states have different laws regarding sick days, PTO, health insurance and minimum wage so make sure that your employee manual is up to date with your state’s laws. State and federal laws change often so be aware that you will have to update the manual often.

2. General Policies of the Company

There really aren’t set rules on what policies need to be in your employee manual, here are some policies and procedures that we can recommend though:

a) Social media usage
b) Drugs and alcohol
c) Discrimination and harassment
d) Wage and hour regulations
e) Disciplinary Policies
f) Problem-Resolution Procedure, including how to report issues anonymously
g) Workplace Violence and Conflict Resolution
h) Company Goals and Mission Statement

I highly recommend an attorney familiar with local labor laws to be involved in preparing the handbook. If you don’t have the budget for an attorney to draft the manual then just have one review it before giving it out to your employees. The cost of the review just might help your business avoid future lawsuits involving employee behavior that is — or is not — defined in the employee handbook.

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