Monday, December 24, 2012

2013 is coming - watch those employee handbooks!

While the employee handbook was once an afterthought of companies, seldom reviewed and updated even less often, it's one of the biggest liabilities for employers with regard to lawsuits and actions by federal regulatory agencies.

The truth that catches some employers off-guard, especially smaller ones who don't have dedicated HR staff or who don't have well-supported human resources operations, is that the employee handbook is one of the most widely-circulated company documents. Thus employers should take it seriously and make sure whatever goes into it should be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb.

A recent email update from the Society of Human Resource Management's website cautions employers to take a close look at their employee handbooks, warning that "Legal and regulatory changes—more than new laws—are driving the need for company policy adjustments, revised plan documents and updated employee handbooks for 2013 by U.S. employers."

Among those items the article warns employers to pay close attention to are social media policies, employment at-will statements, handbook receipts, termination policies and state-specific issues.

Warning of continued close regulatory watches by agencies under the current Presidential administration, the article suggests that handbooks should be checked at least every six months and employers may want to include a disclaimer which cautions that state and local laws may also apply to terms of employment.


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