By Audra Hedberg, HR Compliance Consultant, Trüpp.
While employee handbooks may not be center of mind when it comes to business priorities, they are very important documents for compliance and setting the tone of your company. With the many changes occurring in employment law, it is more important than ever to have strong policies in place. Consider, for example, the importance of anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures, as we face significant anti-harassment trends around the #metoo movement.
Employee Handbooks are a living document that should be modified as your business needs, employee count, and federal, state, and local laws and regulations change. In 2018, there were 55 legal changes at the state and local levels requiring updates to employment policies. We are seeing these trends continue and expect there will be more in 2019.
It can be difficult to keep up with the frequent legal changes causing your handbook to become outdated and non-compliant. Laws aren’t changing on January 1st each year– there are several laws that take effect in off months, so updating your handbook may need to be done more frequently than on an annual basis.
Did you know that if you are an FMLA eligible employer, the FMLA notice must be in your handbook? Did you know California law requires that whenever employers disseminate employee manuals, such manuals must include notification of California’s family care and pregnancy leave rights? Additionally, New York and Oregon recently enacted a law requiring employers to have an anti-harassment policy with specific parameters as to what the policy must include.
Many of these laws have unique requirements based on the state or municipality where your employees work, making compliance even more complex. Here are a few legal trends that require updates to your company policies and employee handbook:
- Anti-sexual harassment laws requiring changes to arbitration, settlement, and training policies
- Pay equity laws requiring changes to pay policies as well as recruiting and performance practices
- Sick leave and sick time laws with regional policy and reporting requirements
- Family leave laws requiring updates to leave and accommodation policies
- Marijuana legalization requiring changes to drug policies and testing prohibitions
Even if your business operations haven’t changed drastically or you believe you’re up-to-date on all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, it’s strongly recommended to review your Employee Handbook at least on an annual basis to ensure it meets current policies and procedures.