What to Include in Your Employee Handbook in 2019

How long has it been since you revised your employee handbook? If you can’t remember, it’s probably time to make some changes.

Did you know that 27 states and several cities have new employment-related laws this year? Beyond the shifting regulatory landscape, your business requirements and the needs of your employees may have changed.

A good rule of thumb is this: Keeping your handbook up-to-date is as important as writing it in the first place.

Here’s a summary of the sections that may be in need of updating and a refresher on additional content that your handbook must include.

Anti-Harassment Policies

Training and retaliation are among the harassment-related issues addressed in new laws enacted since 2018. Increased media attention to sexual harassment in the last few years has also led many employers to revisit their policies. Your policy should:

  • Define what specific behaviors constitute sexual harassment
  • Provide appropriate channels for filing a complaint
  • Outline your procedures for promptly and thoroughly investigating all complaints
  • Include a statement about protecting confidentiality to the fullest extent permissible under law
  • Address prohibition of retaliation against any employee who files a complaint in good faith

Leave Policies

Some locations have passed new laws that may require you to update your leave policies.

  • Paid family leave requirements
  • Leave requirements for small employers
  • Leave and reinstatement policies for military members
  • Domestic violence leave

You’ll also want to ensure that parental leave applies equally to all new parents, and that you distinguish between leave for recovering from childbirth and leave required to care for a new child.

Reasonable Accommodations

You may need to comply with new regulations addressing reasonable accommodations.

  • Accommodations for pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Access to employee restrooms for individuals with certain conditions or disabilities
  • Safety accommodations for victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault

Equal Employment and Discrimination Policies

Depending on your location, your equal employment and/or non-discrimination policies may need to address a number of issues.

  • LGBT protections: Although not recognized as a protected class under federal law, some states now prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Equal pay: Some jurisdictions now prohibit pay discrimination based on gender, asking job applicants about their salary history or banning employees from discussing wages
  • Marijuana users: Many states and cities have legalized the use of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes; some employers in these locations may need to revise drug policies to address workers who use marijuana in compliance with local laws
  • Weapons: While you may still prohibit weapons from your building and/or company vehicles, some states allow employees or customers to store a personal firearm in a private vehicle in the parking lot

Other Information to Include

Regardless of your jurisdiction, it is important to review your handbook at least once a year to make sure it addresses current legal requirements and business needs, including:

  • General information such as a welcome letter from the president or CEO, mission statement and summary of your company culture
  • A disclaimer clarifying that the handbook is not a contract of employment
  • Reiteration of at-will nature of employment with your company
  • Basic employee expectations including attendance, conduct, dress code and discipline procedures
  • Payroll policies including timekeeping, overtime, meals, break times and pay days
  • Criteria for promotions and raises
  • Standard operating hours, holiday closures and inclement weather policies
  • Safety and security policies
  • A signature form indicating that the employee has read the handbook

Employee handbooks should be easy to read and free of unnecessary jargon. Make sure employees know who they can contact with questions.

Do you need direction on what to include in your employee handbook? Is it time for a revision but you’re not sure where to start?

Get in touch with Moresource, Inc. Our experts will make sure your handbook complies with all applicable laws and effectively communicates your expectations to all employees.