Three Items to Check when Updating an Employee Manual

Every 12 months it is a good idea for employers to review their Employee Manual to make sure that their employment policies are up to date, both with the employer’s current protocols and with any changes in the laws in the various jurisdictions where they do business. Here are three items to check when reviewing an Employee Manual.

First, an Employee Manual should make clear that all employees are at-will employees, which means that either the employee or employer may end the relationship at any time. The Employee Manual should make clear that the employer has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without case, and with or without notice.  Likewise, the employee is free to resign at any time. The fact that an employee is at-will employee should be stated at the beginning of the Employee Manual, throughout the Employee Manual, and as part of an acknowledgment form that the employee signs when they receive the Employee Manual.

Second, the Employee Manual should contain a clear and conspicuous disclaimer that the Employee Manual is not a contract. This disclaimer should be both in the beginning of the Employee Manual and, again, made part of the acknowledgment form that the employee signs.

Third, many state and local jurisdictions have recently adopted laws that deal with leave benefits. Some of these laws require a certain amount of unpaid leave, while some even require employers to provide employees with paid leave.  In addition, all employer who have at least 50 employees working in a 75 mile radius must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires an employer to provide unpaid leave for specific family and medical circumstances.  This area of the law is rapidly changing and leave polices need to keep up with the new legal requirements.

Of course, these three items are just the start of a long list of items that must be reviewed when updating an Employee Manual. While this process can be time consuming, a well-written Employee Manual can help with workplace efficiency, can assist in making sure that there is consistency in employment policies, and can be used as tool to defend an employer in a lawsuit if an employee brings a claim against the employer.

For more information on employment policies and Employee Manuals, please contact Scott A. Mirsky at (301) 664-7710 or samirsky@mirskylawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Freelancers are taking over the workplace!

According to one recent 2016 study, 55 million Americans are working as freelancers (which is 35% of the US Workforce). The use of freelancers by businesses raises all sorts of legal questions, but most significantly is the issue of worker misclassification.  Businesses routinely classify freelancers as independent contractors, not employees.  Is this correct?  It depends on a variety of factors.  In general, if the freelancer is truly independent (meaning that the business does not control how the freelance does his/her work) and the freelancer operates as an independent business, then classifying the freelancer as independent contractor would most likely be correct.  However, the line between who is an employee and who in an independent contractor can sometimes be difficult to determine. Unfortunately, different laws use different tests to determine if the worker is an employee or independent contractor.  Most of the tests focus on (a) whether the business controls how the freelancer performs the work, (b) whether the business controls the “economic realities” of the relationship; and (3) whether the worker has an independent business.  Great care must be taken to ensure workers are properly classified.  A business cannot summarily decide that a particular worker is an independent contractor, rather the relationship and interaction between the business and the freelancer needs to be examined.  The consequences for misclassifying a worker can be significant, as various statues requires violators to pay fines, taxes, unpaid wages, and other damages.

For more information on worker misclassification issues, please contact Scott A. Mirsky at (301) 664-7710 or samirsky@mirskylawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.