Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, workplace laws and employees handbook are gradually altering. New regulations are being adopted at the federal, state, and local levels as the pandemic continue.
Companies all over the world have made considerable changes to their employee handbooks. It includes work schedules, health, and safety rules, works from home/telework, paid leave, flexible working arrangements, and state-level paid-leave mandates.
According to XpertHR's 2020 Survey on Employee Handbooks— When asked if their company's employee handbook had been altered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, 27 percent replied yes, 69 percent said no, and 4% stated they weren't sure. (Note that the poll was held in the summers of 2020, in June and July.)
In case, you fall in the last two categories of “No” or “weren’t sure” —then it’s time for you to focus on implementing it.
Furthermore, companies should evaluate their employee handbooks to ensure that all regulations and legislation are updated. It will also assist you and your team in staying on the same page.
In today’s topic, we will discuss the employee handbook and the top 14 policies that you need to add to your employee manual handbook. Let’s check what we’ll cover ahead:
- What’s an Employees Handbook?
- Legal Aspect of Employee Handbook
- Understanding Workplace Regulations
- 14 Important Policies to Add in Your Employee Handbook
- Best Examples of Employee Handbook
- How Deskera Can Assist You?
What’s an Employees Handbook?
An employee handbook is a compendium of procedures, regulations, working conditions, and behavioral standards that govern employee behavior in a specific business. This staff handbook is generally created by the HR department.
Furthermore, you will also find employee handbook contents that should be living documents comprising —your company's history, policies, purpose, culture, benefits, and broad strategic objectives.
The employee handbook works as a useful user manual for employees, executives, and managers to learn what they need to know in order to remain effective and safe in the workplace.
It establishes clear standards for your employees while also establishing employee rights and stating your legal clarification and obligations.
As a result, the employee policy handbook protects businesses from claims of employees (such as harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination, or poor treatment) by informing employees about these standards and allowing them to know the outcome.
For example; those who established a strategic social media plan 20 years ago spared a lot of time and effort. Similarly, those that tackled sexual harassment were also ahead of the curve.
Check the following elements that most large organizations' include in their employee handbooks:
Ultimately, the handbook serves as an important introduction to your company for new employees. It offers information that helps them grasp authority policies, legal guidelines, and company culture.
Legal Aspect of Employee Handbook
You might wonder if it is mandatory to require an employee handbook. Well, the answer to that is - No!
You are not required by the federal government to have an employee handbook. They do, however, require you to inform employees about their rights.
Furthermore, you could face serious problems if you don't have an employee or staff handbook. It is a wise technique to develop an employee handbook if you want to run your business successfully by keeping everyone at your workplace on the same page.
Understanding Workplace Regulations
Despite the fact that numerous laws require companies to inform employees of their rights at work, no federal or state regulations require employers to keep an employee handbook, and many employers opt not to.
For a multitude of reasons, however, developing and implementing an employee handbook is a wise decision and best practice.
A well-prepared handbook will address many of the common inquiries that might otherwise arrive on the desk of a Human Resources supervisor or professional.
Moreover, employees will save time and effort in the HR department if they already have a handbook that addresses their concerns.
Furthermore, employee handbooks can be used to offer information to employees that are legally required to be delivered in written (such as equal employment opportunity (EEO) declarations).
14 Important Policies to Add in Your Employee Handbook
Following we have discussed top policies that you should include in your employee handbook. Let’s learn:
#1 Covid-19 Policies
Several employers have adopted policies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. It includes masks, social distancing, vaccination, and other safety steps.
Employers should be aware that the federal, state and municipal governments have been quickly enacting legislation, regulations, and executive orders that may have an impact on company practices in these areas. Some instances are as follows:
- Certain personnel must be vaccinated according to federal, state, and/or local regulations.
- A few states require companies to have a documented policy/program in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as a list of the items that must be included in the program.
- Several states have laws prohibiting employers from enforcing immunization obligations unless certain exemptions are provided.
- Unvaccinated personnel is required to wear masks in certain states and local municipalities. Indoors, some people, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to wear masks.
While some states and municipalities have approved laws requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for specific employee categories, others have taken the opposite approach.
Employers should be aware that some federal and state workplace vaccination mandates are still being challenged in court. However, it is important for employers to keep a close eye on the case.
Moreover, employers should get legal advice on the implications of recent federal, state, and municipal regulations on their COVID-19 policies and regulations.
#2 Remote and Hybrid Work Policies
Over the last two years, widespread acceptance of flexible working has been a hot trend. Companies have adopted new techniques of working schedules and techniques such as remote working, hybrid working, 9/80 work schedule, and more.
If your organization offers remote, hybrid, or any other working options, ensure sure the policies are documented in your employee handbook.
Data Security, Compliance, employee engagement, and your business protocols are all impacted by new working procedures. Therefore, you must clearly define the updated laws, regulations, and guidelines in the staff handbook policies.
Furthermore, it will help to avoid situations such as unintentionally breaking the law, having a data breach, or having employees complain about unfair or poor treatment.
#3 Wage and Hour Change
Many states are changing their overtime and minimum wage requirements, many of which intersect with federal law.
Employers should be careful on this front. Pennsylvania, for example, is eliminating its specific white-collar exclusions to overtime pay regulations and replacing them with the FLSA's requirements.
Employees must execute certain activities, be compensated on a salary basis, and achieve a minimum wage threshold to qualify for the FLSA's white-collar exemptions. The FLSA salary level is now $35,568, but some states have a higher salary requirement for exempt labor.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 25 states have planned a minimum wage raise for some point in 2022, with the bulk taking effect on January 1.
Furthermore, many state and local pay rates have been gradually growing each year in order to eventually reach $15 per hour, and others have already exceeded or beyond that level.
#4 Leave and Time-off Benefit Policies
These rules and policies encompass the company's legal leave policies and procedures such as voting leave, sick leave, family leave, domestic violence leave. It also includes other national holidays, vacations as well.
Additionally, COVID leaves have lately been mandated by a number of state and local governments. A documented policy may be required under certain leave legislation.
These policies should cover the following aspects:
- Reasons to qualify for the leave
- Paid or Unpaid Leave
- For how many days leave will be granted
- Procedures for requesting leave
- How the leave will accrue
- Notice period before taking the leave
- Carryover (if applicable)
- The continuation of benefits while on leave
- Recordkeeping and employer notice requirements
You can add other sections as per your company policies and requirements. Moreover, make sure to check your state and municipal laws to follow their laws and regulations especially on Covid-19 guidelines.
#5 Equal Employment and Anti-Harassment Policies
This is governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Make sure you include specific examples of undesirable behavior.
In addition, instruct your staff or supervisors on what to do if they are harassed or witness it happening to a coworker. Also, spell out what you'll do if an employee accuses you of harassment.
A rising number of states are mandating firms to have a documented policy in place to avoid workplace harassment, which includes:
- Connecticut (employers with three or more employees)
- California (all employers)
- Illinois (bars, restaurants, hotels, and casinos)
- Massachusetts (employers with six or more employees)
- Vermont (all employers)
- Washington (motel, hotel, retail, and security guard entities, as well as property service contractors)
- New York (all employers)
- Oregon (all employers)
- District of Columbia (employers of tipped employees)
- Maine (all employers)
- Rhode Island (employers with 50 or more employees)
Maine and Massachusetts both require that insurance be distributed on a yearly basis.
Remember that certain information may be required by state or local legislation. For example; how individuals can file objections with the state or local agency,
Even if a written policy isn't required in your jurisdiction, having one is a smart option. Companies are advised to develop a documented anti-harassment policy by state and local agencies, as well as case law in a variety of different jurisdictions.
#6 Time and Attendance Policies
Keep in mind that the accuracy with which you evaluate your employees' time is governed by pay and hour legislation. As a result, the ability to keep track of time is critical.
Furthermore, employees should be allowed to check-in for shifts as per your employee handbook's guidelines. Include guidelines for PTO, minimum salary, lunch and break times, overtime, and a reasonable workweek, for example.
#7 Employee Conduct and Drug-Free Workplace Policies
Employees must be prepared to act at their planned start time each day, according to attendance regulations, which also include processes for notifying the employer of an unplanned absence or late arrival.
Policies regarding standards of conduct, drug and alcohol misuse, disciplinary measures, confidentiality, conflicts, and workplace violence are also recommended.
Furthermore, establishing a substance abuse program is always a smart option whether or not you are required to do so. For example, if you undertake drug tests, your guidelines must be unbiased.
Ensure that you are familiar with the laws and that you have them written down in your manual. However, there is the matter of marijuana. Cannabis is still outlawed in the United States.
As a result, there is a lot of confusion regarding what this implies at the local scale. It's time to revise your employee handbook if your state has legalized marijuana. This could, for example, have a substantial impact on your drug testing procedures.
Make sure that your business works in compliance with federal laws to stay on the safe side.
#8 Used PTO and Final Check Policies
State legislation may pertain to end-of-employment challenges depending on the area you live in. As a result, you should see an attorney. The employer must pay out excess PTO and vacation time in several states, for instance.
The federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is abbreviated as COBRA.
Your employee handbook should specify what happens if an employee quits or gets dismissed. Suppose, former employees have the opportunity to enroll in COBRA if you provide health insurance.
It includes, for example, continuing health care after a divorce. In practice, it refers to the COBRA-administered benefits plan of the company.
Former employees who wish to enroll in COBRA must complete enrollment paperwork. Provide a connection to these documents in your handbook if you have an integrated time and labor system.
#10 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Your employees must be aware of your safety standards in order to operate in a safe environment.
How do you go about doing this? Use in-person training as well as posters to keep them at the forefront of employees' minds. Above all, include them in the guidebook from the start.
After all, you need your new employees to know how serious you are about safety.
#11 Reasonable Accommodation
Employers must make reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees who have disabilities. It also includes individuals who have held religious beliefs and practices under certain laws.
These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act unless doing so would cause undue hardship.
Some states and local governments have rules requiring accommodations in certain situations, such as when a worker has a pregnancy-related condition.
Furthermore, several of these regulations require companies to have a defined policy on reasonable accommodations, which is a wise idea even if it isn't required.
#12 At-Will Employment
The term 'at-will' refers to the fact that either partner can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason is legitimate.
At the beginning of your employee handbook, this sentence should be prominently stated.
However, Montana is an exception where at-will employment is illegal. Moreover, in your employee handbook form, underline the at-will position as well.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and workers based on protected characteristics. It includes race, age, sex, and religion, among others, under federal, state, and local legislation.
The number of protected attributes and included individuals continues to rise as states and local jurisdictions introduce new laws and government entities and courts take new perspectives on current laws.
In some cases, anti-discrimination policies are required. Even if it isn't required by law, it's a sensible move to establish a policy that:
- Applicants, workers, interns, and contractors are among those who are protected by the policy (if applicable).
- Retaliation against employees who file a complaint or participate in an investigation is prohibited.
- All qualities protected by federal, state, and/or municipal regulations are included.
- All aspects of employment are governed by this law. It includes selection, hiring, discipline, training, promotions, benefits, compensation, and termination.
- Encourages employees to report any incidents of discrimination and provides them with several options for doing so.
- All employment choices are made on the basis of a person's credentials and abilities to execute the fundamental responsibilities of a job, regardless of protected characteristics.
- Any employee who violates the policy shall be subject to suitable disciplinary measures, up to and including instant dismissal.
#14 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
If an employee requires paid or unpaid leave, they should consult your handbook for specific guidelines. Additionally, due to Covid 19-related leave, you may need to consider upgrading.
Best Examples of Employee Handbook
Let's look at some employee handbook samples now that we've covered the "musts."
Take a look at how these Human resource departments brought their employee handbooks to life:
The Netflix staff handbook is a straightforward manual, but its effectiveness speaks for itself. Moreover, their employee handbook is simple and straightforward; it doesn't feel the need to add unnecessary content to keep its employees interested.
Furthermore, they have clearly stated the company's onboarding and other practices. Also, how they manage and motivate their employees.
They are adamant that employee handbooks should not be amusing; rather, they should be on-point in their delivery of information, allowing employees to get right to work.
Netflix is a great example, with 129 digital pages of information that are brief, sweet, and straightforward.
With a single glance at the Wells Fargo employee handbook, you can understand the significance of this company.
The glossary, as well as the various commentaries, charts, and links that lead to an extension of suggestions that were too extensive to accommodate in the original manual, are the true highlights of this book.
This sample employee handbook works as a fantastic source of inspiration if you want to feel properly accustomed as part of a corporate structure.
The Motley Fool: The Fool Rules
The Motley Fool won Glassdoor's Best Places to Work 2015, with "foolishness" praised and a vacation policy that tells you to "take what you need."
Moreover, this isn't a manual; instead, it's a full-fledged immersive experience on a professional site, equipped with corporate regulations, a glossary of crucial terms, and video from the CEO. The best part is that it's mobile-friendly as well.
This works as a perfect source of inspiration for your company’s employee handbook template.
How Deskera Can Assist You?
As a business, you must be diligent with employee leave management. Deskera People allows you to conveniently manage leave, attendance, payroll, and other expenses. Generating payslips for your employees is now easy as the platform also digitizes and automates HR processes.
We have finally reached the end section of this detailed guide. Let’s take a look for future reference:
- An employee handbook is a compendium of procedures, regulations, working conditions, and behavioral standards that govern employee behavior in a specific business.
- The employee handbook works as a useful user manual for employees, executives, and managers to learn what they need to know in order to remain effective and safe in the workplace.
- You are not required by the federal government to have an employee handbook. They do, however, require you to inform employees about their rights.
- Several employers have adopted policies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. It includes masks, social distancing, vaccination, and other safety steps.
- If your organization offers remote, hybrid, or any other working options, ensure sure the policies are documented in your employee handbook.
- Employees must execute certain activities, be compensated on a salary basis, and achieve a minimum wage threshold to qualify for the FLSA's white-collar exemptions.
- COVID leaves have lately been mandated by a number of state and local governments.
- Companies are advised to develop a documented anti-harassment policy by state and local agencies, as well as case law in a variety of different jurisdictions.
- Include guidelines for PTO, minimum salary, lunch and break times, overtime, and a reasonable workweek in your employee handbook
- Policies regarding standards of conduct, drug and alcohol misuse, disciplinary measures, confidentiality, conflicts, and workplace violence are also recommended.
- Your employee handbook should specify what happens if an employee quits or gets dismissed.
- Employers must make reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees who have disabilities.
- The term 'at-will' refers to the fact that either partner can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason is legitimate.
- Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and workers based on protected characteristics.