by Kathryn Simpson
As a business owner, you probably have an employee handbook (or manual). You may have had it drafted by an attorney or perhaps an employee downloaded a template from the internet and adapted it to your situation. Wherever that handbook came from or whenever it was done, it is always a good idea to try it on and see if it still fits.
• Should you decide it needs improvement, here are some of the mistakes to avoid in drafting either an entirely new handbook or in updating the old:
• failing to consider the effects of both state and federal laws on your employees (for example, wage issues including overtime)
• failing to include certain information required or highly recommended by federal and state law (sexual harassment policy, and FMLA, USERRA, COBRA notices – and if you don’t know what those initials stand for, then you need an attorney right now)
• failing to update the handbook to keep pace with changes in the law (new FMLA regulations have been in effect since March 8, 2013.)
• failing to include a disclaimer that the handbook is not a contract of employment
• failing to look at the big picture and not drafting sections that deal with generalities (and not specific situations)
• failing to provide flexibility for the employer to deal with employee situations that arise
• failing to make the handbook user-friendly (table of contents, easy to read, etc.)
including specifics about employee benefits (health insurance, pension or retirement benefits) where there is a plan and a summary plan document that governs
• failing to have the draft of your handbook reviewed by counsel experienced in employment law.
The experienced attorneys at Mette, Evans & Woodside are able to assist you in the revision of an existing handbook or in the creation of a new one.