Employee handbooks may seem like a trivial document, but working with a lawyer to put one together is key. As your organization grows, you’ll also want to regularly update your handbook because when employee litigation happens, your handbook can become a key piece of evidence. Your handbook, ideally, becomes the first place lawyers and judges will look when trying to determine what policies your company has on various topics. Of course, they will also want evidence that you follow the policies and procedures outlined in your handbook.
- Termination Policy: In the event of wrongful termination litigation, your handbook shows what your policies are on different types of infractions, what warning procedures should have been followed, and whether or not the employee has any internal right to appeal.
- Harassment Policy: Your employee handbook should have a clear policy on harassment and discrimination, outline the types of behavior considered harassment, and provide employees with a reporting procedure where they feel confident that their concerns will be investigated. You’ll also need to have documents regarding your internal investigation into the complaint and provide guidance to employees in your handbook about what they can expect.
While not all harassment complaints are legitimate, and sometimes legitimate complaints fall outside of the scope of what your office can police (such as comments made to an employee outside of working hours and outside of your building), you do want to make sure your handbook outlines the process that your HR staff will follow. Your handbook might also state that employees have a right to privacy and so the person bringing the harassment complaint may not have a right to know if any disciplinary action resulted.
- Leave and Absence: A clear policy on leave, how to take leave (both vacation and sick leave), who to notify if you’re going to be absent from work, and a policy on unexcused absences is also important, especially in certain industries where attendance and absence are problems. Your handbook should clearly state how many unexcused absences will result in termination or disciplinary action.
- Other Workplace Conduct: Any behavior which could create a problem in the workplace, such as inappropriate clothing in a food or manufacturing setting, unprofessional behavior in an office setting, and other such requirements should be outlined in your employee handbook. This handbook sets the tone and provides guidance to employees and is the reference your HR team can give out if someone’s behavior or choices are brought into question.
Business lawsuits often turn on the facts of your specific business and the business processes you employee. Your handbook, as well as testimony from staff, will be used to establish the process, procedures, and policies your business runs by. To discuss your case, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.