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Quiz: Is Your Employee Handbook Ready for 2019

HR pros are a little obsessed with having a good employee handbook. For just about every HR-related conundrum, the truth is out there and it should be explicitly explained in your company’s employee handbook.

Employee threatening to defame you on the internet? It’s in the handbook. Do employees have questions about time off requests? Refer them to the handbook for a refresher on what the company policy is. Uneasy about an employee’s attire? Flip through that handbook. Is one of your managers not sure about what constitutes sexual harassment? Look to the handbook.

It is a tool to set the rules and communicate changes to your employees. The handbook can also be your best defense in court if you should find yourself in a legal situation.

An employee handbook isn’t cookie cutter. Every business’ handbook should be different, tailored to its needs, industry and local employment laws.

With so much emphasis on this document, how can a business owner tell if their handbook is up to snuff? A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) has a group of human resource professionals who are experts in every area that human resources encompasses from safety to compliance to benefits and payroll, that can guide a business owner every step of the way to ensure compliance with all the laws. The following quiz that can help you evaluate the content of your current employee handbook. Answer a simply yes or no to the following questions and it will help you identify areas that need to be addressed with HR professionals in a future employee handbook re-write:

Employee handbook components Yes No
Have you updated the content handbook in the past year?    
Overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies that comply with current federal and state regulations.
Overview of Worker’s Compensation policies that comply with current federal and state regulations.
Statement of equal employment and discrimination policies in accordance with the US Department of Labor.
Statement of expectations of work authorization, including that all employees are eligible to work in the US and have completed an I-9 form to prove their eligibility.
Statement(s) of policies describing the company’s paid time-off policies (PTO), including the different types of leave, how much time is earned and how it can be used.
Statement(s) of policies outlining expectations of employee behavior, including but not limited to employee conduct, dress code, attendance, use of company property and equipment and substance use expectations (in accordance with current state and local laws), among other factors.
Statement(s) of policies regarding bullying, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation (can be included in a code of conduct, but should be explicit and comply with current state and local laws.
Statement(s) of policies regarding compensation, including when and how employees will be compensated for work performed and how deductions will be made. This section should also include a statement of worker classification, including information on overtime eligibility and what constitutes working hours (in accordance with current state and local laws). This section should also include information on your company’s broader pay structure, as well as information on criteria for bonuses and other non-guaranteed pay (such as details on tip distribution, commission payments, etc).
Statement(s) of policies regarding benefits offerings, including a top-level overview of your health, dental, vision, life insurance, and disability offerings. This section should also include eligibility requirements for said benefits when workers can enroll, and under what circumstances outside of standard open enrollment periods that changes can be made.
Statement(s) of policies regarding workplace safety and security in accordance with current federal and state laws, as well as any relevant industry standards. This section should also include information on how to report unsafe conditions, hazards, and injuries.
Statements about sexual harassment, what it is and clearly-defined procedures to handle a complaint. This section should encompass national, state and local requirements.
Statements about illegal and legal drug use.
Statements about social media and its use, along with any ramifications from such use.
Statement(s) of policies regarding unemployment compensation, including under which circumstances they may be eligible and what this process may entail.
Statement(s) of policies regarding how to file a complaint regarding the company, its employees or any other issues that arise as a result of employment at your business.
Statement(s) noting that the handbook is not a binding contract suggesting continued employment.
Statement(s) noting that the revised handbook (with date) supersedes all previous handbooks and policies previously made by the company.
Notice that the policies outlined in the handbook are subject to change.
Tear out page where employees can sign a document stating that they have received and acknowledge the employee handbook and its policies.
Has it been approved by an attorney (if not created in conjunction with one)?
Is available in both paper and digital formats for ease of accessibility.

As you will notice, we mention several times that it is imperative that the policies outlined in the employee handbook reflect current state and federal laws – we note this because these laws change frequently and often with little notice, but can have significant ramifications should you run awry of any of the requirements.

Don’t have a handbook – or have one that has not been refreshed in a few years? A PEO can help you to write an employee handbook that can educate your staff and protect everyone in the fairest way possible.

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