Employee handbooks are a necessary evil for both employees and employers. These handbooks communicate the basic rules, policies, benefits, and other information that most employers want employees to know. If an employee handbook is not well-written or clear, it can cause consternation from employees. Employers typically look at these manuals in terms of how to cover their…assets…in the event of any potential lawsuits. However, smart employers view them as the document that answers employee questions on the basics of their role and the benefits they receive. Remember, this document helps save you time in the future without employees continually asking these questions.
Crafting an Effective Policy Manual
Employers can craft an employee handbook that protects them from litigation and puts staff members at ease by clearly stating the company’s policies. In order to create an effective policy manual, the employer should take the time to identify what is important to the business. Employers may use this as a tool to keep employees happy as well as accomplish the company’s business objectives. Think of it as a “rule book” or an instruction manual for employees. As a result, the employee will know what the practice expects from them and what they can expect from the company.
The employee handbook details topics including:
- How to categorize employees
- When and how to pay staff
- Employee performance ratings
- Company sick leave and other benefits
- Company work-life programs
- Staff disputes and what actions qualify for disciplinary actions.
Spelling out these areas frees management from answering repetitive questions. It also ensures employees that they do not have to worry about treatment or fairness in the workplace.
Writing a Clear and Accessible Handbook
An effective employee handbook is dependent on policy inclusion and verbiage. The first rule for writing a valid handbook is writing in a clear, understandable manner, that reflects the culture of the business. Certain policies need to be in the handbook by law. This means that you should take the time to learn about and understand local, state, and federal requirements. Additionally, other policies should be in the handbook to protect the employer. However, no matter the reason behind the policies, all should be enforced in a consistent manner.
Zetter HealthCare provides digital employee handbooks that are accessible by employees anytime from anywhere via the internet. It allows and requires employees to review it annually and documents that they did review it and acknowledge the policies contained within.
Our employee handbooks are legal and valid and ensure you communicate the “at-will” employment status for states with “at-will” employment laws. We ensure that all policies that you need or want in your handbook are documented. We can also provide you an unending number of policies to include if you so choose.
Below is a sample listing of policies that can be included in your employee handbook:
Click here for a list of sample policies included in an employee handbook.
Updating Your Handbook
How often do you take the time to update your handbook? As time goes on, it is important to update certain aspects of your employee handbook that set clear guidelines for employees. At Zetter HealthCare, we recommend updating the following policies in your employee handbook when necessary.
General Compliance Statement
A general compliance statement is meant to show that a practice has committed to following all local, state, and federal laws and will take all necessary steps to abide by those laws. A general compliance statement should also include your company’s HIPAA compliance statement ensuring that it will protect patient privacy.
At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time and for any reason. Similarly, it also means that employees can leave their job at any time. In an at-will state, these can both be done without any legal consequences. All states recognize at-will employment, but certain states have set their own limitations on it. It is extremely important to familiarize yourself on your state’s at-will laws and accurately reflect those in your handbook.
Each company has its own definition of what it means to be a “full-time employee.” This may include the number of hours worked per week and if they can receive benefits. Does your handbook accurately state what your company defines as a full-time employee? If not, be sure to clearly state the difference between full-time and part-time employees.
Each state has different rules and regulations regarding employee breaks. It is important to find out exactly what your state requires in terms of lunch breaks, breastfeeding breaks, bathroom breaks, and more. These rules should be updated as state regulations are updated.
Paid Time Off
It is important to update your company’s paid time off policy with both your company’s changes and state regulatory changes. Each state’s Department of Labor has its own laws on how paid time off can or must be used. It is also important to update any changes in paid time off made internally from your company.
Drugs & Alcohol
Most companies have a drug and alcohol policy in place to set expectations of what is and is not acceptable in terms of drugs and alcohol. Each state must comply with the Department of Labor on whether or not they can test employees for drugs and alcohol. Since medical marijuana laws have changed drastically in recent years, it is also important to update these policies frequently.
Social Media Policy
Since the use of social media in the workplace is fairly new, it is essential to change or add it to your employee handbook. This policy outlines rules on the personal use of social media in the workplace. More specifically, what may be inappropriate to post on social media and who in your company can speak on it’s behalf to the media.
For assistance with employee handbooks and policies, contact Zetter HealthCare at (717) 691-6768.
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