6 Items You Must Include In Your Employee Handbook

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June 12, 2018

6 Items you must include in your employee handbook

When writing an employee handbook for your workplace there are a variety of different things you may want to consider including. Some of these specifics may be more relevant than others to those working in a specific industry or line of work, however, the following list of 6 items you must include in your handbook is generally an expansive list that will pertain (at least in some small way) to virtually every company that would write a handbook as a guide for their employees as to how to behave on the job.

The following are 6 basic things that every company should consider including in their employee handbooks for their workers include the following:

  • Prepare For Natural Disasters: The past several years have highlighted a company's need for having an emergency preparedness plan in place when natural disasters strike. From hurricanes such as Harvey to Irma, the US has seen firsthand the massive devastation that natural disasters can bring to an area. Having a plan for your business, especially in the case of there being evacuations in your area, should be set forth from the beginning and clearly stated in your employee handbook. Examples of these plans include: When will your company cease operations in the case of a natural disaster? How is the absence of employees who live in evacuation zones handled? When will operations start back up at the company after the natural disaster is over? How will the business help families and workers recover from a natural disaster? These are just a few things to think about when you are writing up your business's blueprint for operating through natural disasters.
  • Workplace Conduct Regarding Social Media: Every company will have a different policy when it comes to how their employees are allowed (versus not allowed) to use social media. For many companies, social media is off limits within the work hours and at the workplace while others use the approach that employees may only use social media during their breaks and not on company computers. Moreover, what employees put on social media should not be defamatory or derogatory in any way towards the company they work for, their fellow employees, or their own positions within the company. Many companies use posting such information as grounds for discipline if the employee is caught posting such content to any social media platform.
  • Sexual Harassment: We have seen many sexual harassment cases sweeping many people from news anchors to Hollywood's elite. Therefore, it's more important than ever for companies to have an anti-harassment policy with a zero tolerance for any harassment of any sort in their workplace. Having policies that are up to par can help protect not only your company but your employees as well. Your handbook should include how to take a complaint of sexual harassment to your HR department or to someone who is able to help fix the situation. There should also be an explanation in the employee handbook of how to follow complaints through the entire process until there is a satisfactory solution in place for all parties involved and action is taken to stop any harassment if is indeed deemed to have occurred. Moreover, make sure your sexual harassment laws meet the minimum requirements for your state as many states such as California have recently increased the minimum requirements of what employers must to do to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Parental Leave: Also known as maternity/paternity leave, every company should have established a basic policy for employees who are taking parental leave in the event of a new baby being born into the family. Even small businesses in many states are going to have to provide parental leave for new parents or parents welcoming a new baby into the family. For example, as of 2018, California requires small companies with few as 20-49 employees to provide baby bonding leave for employees, allowing the employees to spend time with their new family member without risk of losing their jobs while they are gone. If your business or company wishes to offer more leave than your state minimum offers, be sure to spell it out clearly in your handbook so employees understand what leave time is at their disposal when they are welcoming a new addition into the family.
  • Disability Accommodations: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires companies to hire employees in a non-discriminatory fashion and to make reasonable accommodations for employees who have any of a variety of disabilities that may affect their ability to do their job in a "standard" way. ADA also provides people with disabilities the ability to take leaves (traditionally up to 12 weeks) without fear of losing their job if and when it is medically necessary. Moreover, as of 2017, people with disabilities who use marijuana for medical cases cannot be fired for using the substance while at work. People who were discriminated against, passed over for jobs, or fired for use of this chemical can now bring companies under lawsuit for discrimination. Moreover, many states now also allow women to practice breastfeeding and lactation while in the workplace. Some of the states that are allowing this practice include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington state, with many more states considering passing similar legislation in the near future. Be sure to determine what accommodations your business is willing to make for those with disabilities and be sure you are adhering to the requirements set forth within the ADA for your state, city, and location to avoid legal issues in the future.
  • LGBTQ & Transgender Employees: In an increasingly political era, how will your company handle and also protect the rights of your company's LGBTQ and transgender employees. From ensuring that these employees have equal career opportunities to helping protect them from harassment by other employees, you need to know what your company will do to protect employees who live alternate, minority lifestyles. This will include laying out how you will be sure that these employees are respected, safe from harassment, and not discriminated against when it comes to everything from a safe work environment to ensuring equal opportunities for career advancement and pay increases.

These are just some of the areas that your company will want to focus on in their employee handbook. Including these types of standards for your company's conduct will make it clear to all employees how they are expected to act and conduct themselves as well as to others what your company stands for and on the premises which you operate.

For more information on critical things to include in your company or business's employee handbook, please feel free to contact us.

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