By Audra Hedberg, PHR, PHRca, SHRM-CP, Senior Compliance Consultant at Trüpp

While employee handbooks may not be top of mind during these hectic times, they are critical documents for mitigating employer risk and setting your company’s tone and behavioral expectations. Many changes have occurred over the last year in employment law and even how we work. It is more important than ever to have strong policies in place. Consider, for example, the importance of telecommuting and remote working policies. As many companies have moved to a fully or partially remote workforce, it is important to establish guidelines for how we expect employees to work efficiently during the pandemic and beyond. With the election coming up, you may want to take a look at your policies regarding voting. Several states mandate providing paid or unpaid time off for employees to vote in an election.

Employee handbooks are a legal document that must be kept up to date

Employee Handbooks are a living document that should be modified as your business evolves, employee count increases or decreases, and as federal, state, and local laws and regulations change.

In 2020 and moving into 2021, there were over 50 legal changes at the state level, with more than 20 occurring in California alone! When updating an employee handbook, it is essential to consider these new laws and updates and pay attention to changes in how employees are working. With a large population of the workforce now telecommuting, it’s important to ensure you have policies and procedures in place to keep employees productive, engaged, and safe. Are you providing laptops and cell phones? What about ergonomic equipment to prevent workplace injuries? Workers Compensation claims can still occur when employees work from home!

An annual handbook update may not be enough

It is challenging to keep up with the frequent legal changes that cause your handbook to fall out of compliance. Employment laws don’t always go into effect on January 1st each year–several laws take effect throughout the year. Handbook updates may need to be done more frequently than on an annual basis.

Trends in employment law at the state and regional level

Many laws have unique requirements based on the state or municipality where your employees work, making compliance even more complicated. Here are just a few trends in employment law we are seeing across the nation that require updates to your company policies and employee handbook:

  • Expanded state-level protected leave applying to smaller organizations
  • Anti-harassment laws requiring changes to employment policies, training, settlement, and non-disclosure agreements
  • 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
  • Paid Family leave and pregnancy accommodation laws requiring updates to leave and accommodation policies

Don’t know where to begin?

Trüpp offers both custom employee handbooks and a convenient employee handbook subscription to ensure your handbook remains up to date. Each handbook is crafted to align with your company’s local, state, and federal employment laws while maintaining a friendly and approachable tone for employees. Learn more about how we can help with your compliance needs.

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