An Up-to-Date Employee Handbook – Your First Line of Defense

Now that the New Year has settled in, it’s time to attack an important task that should be on your to-do list every year – update your Employee Handbook.   (Or, have this be the year that you actually do one, if you don’t have a handbook at all).

If you already have an employee handbook, you have taken an important first step in protecting yourself and your business.  Done correctly, a handbook creates a strong first line of defense against discrimination, harassment and other types of employee claims.  However, an out-of-date handbook greatly diminishes your protective shield.  So, it’s important every year to have your handbook reviewed from both a state and federal perspective to ensure it takes into account changes in the regulations, as well as legal cases that my have changed the regulatory environment.  Finally, your updated handbook needs to be circulated to all employees and you need to ensure that each employee signs off on having received the update.

For those who haven’t yet gotten around to creating a handbook, there are many benefits to you, your company and your employees, beyond those mentioned above.  Not only does a well crafted handbook offer protection, it can also create a more harmonious and productive work environment for your employees.  Whenever there is uncertainty, employees spend needless time and energy filling in the blanks.  With all of your policies clearly laid out, employees can instead focus on their jobs and your customers, increasing productivity and reducing tensions.

One final word of caution regarding handbooks – the internet is NOT your friend in this case.  There are many handbook templates and generators floating around in cyberspace.  Unless they come from a reputable HR or legal firm, including a recent review, you should be cautious.  In addition, it’s easy to mistakenly include policies that do not comply with California-specific regulations and end up in trouble.

Fortunately, having your handbook reviewed, or creating a new one, with the help of an HR professional is neither a big nor an expensive project.  So, take time to get that task done and off of your to-do list.  If you need help with your handbook, give us a call.

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