As you read this today, grab a copy of the Employee Handbook currently in use by your employee population. Take a read and see if all the information within is accurate and current. If it’s not, it is time to update and redistribute. Hundreds of employers a year find themselves on the losing end of law suits that focus on the fact that the polices in their handbook did not match the practices of the company. Further, areas where a specific employee is identified as the point of contact for say Sexual Harassment claims, but that employee is no longer with the firm, may result in a greater potential of liability. Updates are essential if you want to get the most protection out of your handbook. Here are some other items to review as you update your Employee Handbook:
Is your employee handbook from a previous employer? Better than half of the handbooks we inspect on behalf of a new client turn out to have originated from another company whereby one of the founders or executives were once engaged. While that prior employer may have done a great job assembling a complete book for their firm, the content of an employee handbook is not always applicable for every environment or company. To that end it is critical to have your book reviewed by a professional who can insure that the book you are using covers the areas YOUR business needs to cover.
Search for the word “GENERALLY” in your Employee Handbook. If you find it less than once…per page you haven’t used it enough. Employers want to have maximum ability to manage each situation that arises on a case-by-case basis. The more specific and inflexible the policy the more handcuffed the company will be in how they administer their policies.
Do you have a separate handbook for Consultants and Non-Employees? Anyone who is not an employee of your company but works in some capacity for your firm probably needs to adhere to certain policies and procedures. If that’s the case, then you need to create a separate handbook that addresses non-employees. The book will contain far less content and should be very targeted towards basic non-employee issues. Providing a non-employee with an Employee Handbook is a cardinal sin that the DOL and IRS look for when auditing your operation for proper employee designations. Don’t set yourself up for what could be a costly event.