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 firstname.lastname@example.org.