From a small family business to a multi-national company, all organizations will require some level of employee handbook. This series of documents can typically be as detailed or general as leadership believes is necessary. It is important to remember, however, that a comprehensive, well-written employee handbook can prevent future disputes and legal battles.
Depending on the nature of the business, an organization might have to address different levels of concerns for numerous factors. From discipline to overtime to a social media policy, an employee handbook is meant to address potential problem areas and clearly define the organization’s position on multiple elements.
The Society For Human Resource Management discusses several pitfalls to avoid. Here are three areas that might get employers into trouble.
- Including an overly detailed policy on disciplinary action: It is common for employers to want to remove all ambiguity from the disciplinary process. They might want to clearly spell out each infraction and what the penalties are from a simple write-up to termination. Having such language in place, however, removes an employer’s ability to be flexible and examine the entire situation from the employee’s work history to any mitigating factors.
- Failing to include a social media policy: Whether your organization is planning on taking a hard-line approach to social media or a more relaxed attitude, it is a mistake not to address it in the employee handbook. While each side of the sliding scale – from strict prohibition to anything-goes – has its own risks, it is wise to carefully consider your organization’s position on the various social media platforms.
- Failing to regularly revise the handbook: Your organization is in a constant state of flux. From new technologies to new products to emerging employment trends, failing to recognize the changing atmosphere can catch a company off guard. It is crucial to complete a thorough review of your employee handbook on a regular basis to see if anything needs to be added, amended or removed altogether.
Take the time to discuss your handbook with an employment law attorney who can advise you on risks and current legal trends in this area. From the language in your disclaimers to the filing of your employees’ signed acknowledgements, the employee handbook is a crucial element in the success of your business.