VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

A new year requires a new look at employee handbooks

Keeping Up With The Times

A new year requires revisiting employee handbooks, taking a fresh look at streamlining for brevity and identifying outdated policies that should be modified or replaced. Some entries that may need fine-tuning include:

  • Employment-at-will - These important policies should be standalone verbiage that defines at-will employment and confirm that any modifications to employment status should be in writing.
  • Exempt vs. non-exempt - Defining employees that are exempt or nonexempt should be kept to concise language, simply noting that nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime.
  • Reasonable accommodations - Again, policies should also lean towards simplicity, providing the contact person to discuss accommodations without going into detail on qualifying disabilities.
  • Payroll - Define the employer's workweek and the pay period when overtime is paid. Also, detail the steps necessary to file a complaint regarding improper payroll deductions.
  • Overtime procedures - Spell out policies if an employee must receive prior approval or be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.
  • Equal opportunity employment - Go beyond a sexual harassment policy and take a more globalized approach. That may include expanding information on all harassment and discrimination complaints and Family and Medical Leave Act policies.
  • Social media usage - Employee access to social media during business hours will likely lead to "check-ins." Confidentiality polices should reflect current times, specifically when it comes to allowable postings via company computers or personal mobile devices.
  • Non-compete provions - Non-compete provisions should be set forth in a separate stand-alone document rather than in an employee handbooks. Handbooks often disclaim the document as not being a binding agreement which can be problematic when trying to enforce a non-compete agreement contained in a handbook.

Beyond hard copies, electronic versions are becoming commonplace because of their ease and affordability to update information. E-versions also provide employees immediate information on policy changes.

Employers should always remember that employee handbooks are living documents that require modifications as times continue to change.

Keeping Up With The Times

A new year requires revisiting employee handbooks, taking a fresh look at streamlining for brevity and identifying outdated policies that should be modified or replaced. Some entries that may need fine-tuning include:

  • Employment-at-will - These important policies should be standalone verbiage that defines at-will employment and confirm that any modifications to employment status should be in writing.
  • Exempt vs. non-exempt - Defining employees that are exempt or nonexempt should be kept to concise language, simply noting that nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime.
  • Reasonable accommodations - Again, policies should also lean towards simplicity, providing the contact person to discuss accommodations without going into detail on qualifying disabilities.
  • Payroll - Define the employer's workweek and the pay period when overtime is paid. Also, detail the steps necessary to file a complaint regarding improper payroll deductions.
  • Overtime procedures - Spell out policies if an employee must receive prior approval or be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.
  • Equal opportunity employment - Go beyond a sexual harassment policy and take a more globalized approach. That may include expanding information on all harassment and discrimination complaints and Family and Medical Leave Act policies.
  • Social media usage - Employee access to social media during business hours will likely lead to "check-ins." Confidentiality polices should reflect current times, specifically when it comes to allowable postings via company computers or personal mobile devices.
  • Non-compete provions - None-compete provisions should be set forth in a separate stand-alone document rather than in an employee handbooks. Handbooks often disclaim the document as not being a binding agreement which can be problematic when trying to enforce a non-compete agreement contained in a handbook.

Beyond hard copies, electronic versions are becoming commonplace because of their ease and affordability to update information. E-versions also provide employees immediate information on policy changes.

Employers should always remember that employee handbooks are living documents that require modifications as times continue to change.

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