Each year, new employment laws go on the books and courts write thousands upon thousands of decisions interpreting old laws. Yet, year after year, HR professionals reach up onto a dusty shelf to hand new employees the same old employee handbook someone wrote years ago--too often without considering whether the contents still pass legal muster.
Don't make that all-too-common mistake. Give yourself every legal advantage by conducting a thorough handbook review. Commit to revising it if necessary.
Regularly updating your employee handbook is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to help your organization stay in compliance. Follow these general guidelines to make sure your handbook promotes your business objectives and minimizes your legal risk.
Make it readable
A handbook is only as good as the language in it. Audience is key, and your employees are your handbook's audience. It is not a complex legal document and it shouldn't read like one. Thus, while lawyers might write your handbook (and should at least review it), it should be written so all employees can understand it. If your workforce is bilingual, your handbook should be, too.
Forms are an okay starting point when developing a handbook, but danger lurks when they become the end point. Templates for handbooks and policies are easy to find. They are all over the internet. Relying on such forms may save a few dollars in legal costs. After all, why pay a lawyer several hundred dollars to draft a form when one is available free? A lawyer must have reviewed the form at some point, right?
Not necessarily. Even if a lawyer did review it once upon a time, it may not be up-to-date, it may not have been reviewed for a specific state's particular employment laws and it certainly wasn't reviewed with your company's specific legal situation in mind.
Forms are merely clean...