Back-to-School, Back-to-Basics

By: Laura Caty & Liam McMillin

Let’s talk about handbooks. Yeah, we know. You’re probably thinking, “The sun is shining, kids are out of school, and everyone is on vacation; why talk about handbooks? Heck, we haven’t even looked at ours in decades?”

But with school looming on the horizon, there is no better time to return to the ABCs. Handbooks are a fundamental part of the employer-employee relationship that are easily overlooked, but can be incredibly important. They are a great way to establish your company’s philosophy, lay out mandatory disclosures and statements, set the rules and procedures for your employees, and establish clear expectations. Handbooks provide answers to questions before they are even asked.  How should your employees behave when interacting with customers? What’s the dress code? How often will they have performance reviews? How is paid time-off accrued and how is it used?

Handbooks should be consistently updated to remain compliant with local, state, and federal laws, as well as non-legal trends. Depending on which state your company operates, recent changes in the law should be accounted and addressed in your handbook. Paid leave, EEO policies, accrued vacation days and payout at termination, just to name a few. Drug policies might need to be updated if your state has made recent changes to laws governing the use of marijuana.

Not to mention, many workplaces look totally different than they did just a year ago. A handbook is a perfect place to lay out remote work policies, and policies that may be new for your work-from-home employees. Your company may be allowing employees work from home a couple days a week or may not have a physical office anymore. What items will the company reimburse remote employees for, and what won’t it? At least ten states require reimbursement for certain work-from-home expenses. And while many don’t have laws requiring reimbursement for work-from-home expenses, several states will make sure you follow any company policy that offers such reimbursements. You want to make sure your handbook properly addresses these situations.

As kids start to learn the alphabet again, it is worth checking your own ABCs: blow the dust off that handbook, make sure it works for you and tells your employees what is important about your company as well as their role within it.

Have a question about your handbook or what should be included or excluded? Give one of Graydon’s experienced labor & employment attorneys a call.

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