Employee Handbook Mistakes

by Kathryn Simpson

As a business owner, you probably have an employee handbook (or manual). It may have been drafted by an attorney or perhaps an employee downloaded a template from the internet and adapted it to your situation. Whatever the source or whenever it was done, now is the time to try it on and see if it still fits.

Should you decide the handbook needs improvement, here are some of the things to consider in drafting either an entirely new handbook or in updating the old:

  • have you considered the effects of both state and federal laws on your employees (for example, wage issues including overtime)?
  • has the number of your employees increased or decreased?
  • have you included certain information required or highly recommended by federal and state law (a sexual harassment policy, and FMLA, USERRA, COBRA/miniCOBRA notices – and if you don’t know what those initials stand for, then you need an attorney right now)?
  • have you updated the handbook to keep pace with changes in the law?
  • have you included a disclaimer that the handbook is not a contract of employment?
  • is the handbook too specific and not general enough to cover situations that may arise?
  • have you made the handbook user-friendly (table of contents, easy to read, etc.)?
  • have you made the handbook easy to revise when needed?
  • does the handbook direct employees to summary plan documents that govern benefits?
  • have you had the draft of your handbook reviewed by counsel with employment law expertise?

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.