Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 13, NO. 7, Pg. 38.
What's in Your Client's Employee Handbook? A Guide to Ensuring Compliance with Georgia Law
GSB JournalVol. 13, NO. 7June 2007What's in Your Client's Employee Handbook? A Guide to Ensuring Compliance with Georgia LawGina M. CookIf you have ever reviewed an employee handbook for a client, you are probably aware of the problems that arise when companies choose to obtain legal materials from less than reliable sources. Unfortunately, the most popular source for obtaining an employee handbook today is the Internet. To your client, that seems like a good idea-online employee handbooks are easily accessible, appear to cover all important areas of the employer/employee relationship, and best of all, they are free. However, eventually someone within the company (usually in the legal department, or perhaps not at all if there is no legal department) will have second thoughts as to the handbook's accuracy. Worse yet, the error could raise its ugly head for the first time in a case before a court or a government agency.
Hopefully the client calls a lawyer before the disaster occurs. If so, the presentation of the handbook is usually accompanied by the hopeful question "Do you think this looks okay?" Inevitably, your answer will be "No!"
If you are going to undertake writing or reviewing a handbook for a Georgia company, you will want to make sure that the language and policies you include comply with state and federal law. There are a number of specific provisions and important drafting concerns that need to be taken into consideration when creating an employee handbook. If you are ever faced with the above-described circumstances, you need to know what principal areas of the employee handbook to focus on to ensure that your client will not face litigation. When drafting or reviewing an employee handbook under Georgia law, always consider the following general guidelines.
First, an Employer is Not Required to Have an Employee Handbook (But It Should)
Your client may be shocked to hear this, but Georgia law does not require employers to have an employee handbook. However, for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from federal law compliance in the area of harassment to employee understanding of employer expectations, companies should be using a handbook. Employee handbooks serve as...