Sometimes, an HR department doesn’t rank an employee handbook and employee policies as a high priority. Your business may even go years without updating a single page of rules, ensuring the employee handbook has the right policies or policies in compliance, or taking the important step of sharing an employee handbook with staff (whether you do it online or in person). It may take events like legal action or disciplinary process for an organization to refer to a page of an employee handbook. In a worst-case scenario, your business or organization may not have an employee handbook at all. To protect your business or your organization, it’s imperative to ensure you have an employee handbook– and be sure you have an employee handbook that does include all the right information and employee policies you need for an effect of full legal compliance in every state and city your business or your organization is located in. To assist you in the process to ensure your handbook provides all the right information, below are nine simple strategies from MP’s compliance and human resources services experts.
1. Avoid “borrowing” or using an unedited handbook.
All too frequently, a business will “borrow” an employee handbook from another company. When every page of your employee manual is not updated for your specific business compliance requirements, including your company size, locations, industry, etc., it’s unlikely your employee handbook will be in compliance. Every company should tailor their employee policies based on where the business is located (this must include where your remote employees have set up their bases), the legal obligations of a company your size, the services or solutions or products your company provides, and your specific company culture.
2. Include required sections per the city and state.
Every business should include in an employment manual the policies and information required by their city, state, and industry. In New York, for example, employee handbooks must include policies regarding sexual harassment and harassment training. In all states, employee handbooks must include “at-will” employment policies. Creating an employment handbook without the required policies may create more legal risk than not having an employee handbook at all.
3. Stay updated on new federal, state, and city regulations and laws.
Your business must make sure your manual is in compliance and employment policies are updated at least once a year to include any legal updates. States, cities, and the country constantly create new legal expectations for a company to maintain compliance. Even if your business was unaware of relevant legal updates, they are still responsible for them, in practice and in your handbook. It’s important to note that if a remote employee works in a different city or state, the company must also follow the rules of their home state. If this process is too complicated for an employee of the company, HR services solutions providers such as MP can assist with keeping your company handbook in compliance.
4. Edit overly restrictive social media policies.
All employers should beware of an overly restrictive social media policy in your handbook. On a federal legal level, this point has been reviewed. The Supreme Court rules on the side of employees’ rights. You may be risking legal action if you have social media policies that infringe upon your employees’ rights to speak freely about their workplace.
5. Ensure that no employee policies are too detailed.
One mistake all employers are in danger of making with their employee manual is developing policies that have too much information in them. When policies are too strict, they may not leave room for your human resources team to make the best decisions for all unique circumstances. If a policy requires managers or human resources employees to fire staff for breaking certain rules, this may be too harsh for the actual situations you encounter. The best rules leave room for managers and human resources professionals to decide on the best disciplinary action solutions for your unique circumstances as they arise.
6. Stay updated on relevant laws as the company grows or shrinks.
All employers should be aware that your organization may need to follow different rules to reach compliance based on the size of your organization. Some states may require companies of a certain size, such as 15 employees or more, to follow certain rules. If your organization grows or shrinks, you may be required to follow new rules to reach compliance. A good way to ensure the company is in compliance is to complete routine checks on HR legislative updates and all local and federal rules at least once a year. Many new laws and rules go into effect in July or August, so you may want to have all your human resources professionals update the rules of your handbook to be in compliance every summer.
7. Audit where remote workers are located.
An employer with remote workers must make it a point to know where all their workers live. They must register for, and pay, all payroll taxes in the locations where their remote employees have a home. Their human resources team should also update all the rules and information in their employer handbook to be in compliance with the laws and regulations of the locations of any remote workers’ home. Sometimes your remote employee may have moved without giving you this information. Even if you don’t know this information, though, your company is still required to be in compliance with that location’s laws and to pay that location’s taxes. Thus, employers should make it a point to do an audit of where all remote employees live, as all these locations will be counted as a “work location” for your organization.
8. Work with an HR expert, such as MP.
Especially if your organization has a complicated situation with multiple remote workers all over the country, or if your organization doesn’t have a career HR services person, it may be time to work with an HR services company like MP. When your organization makes it a point to work with an HR services company like MP, your handbook will be in good hands. MP’s HR services experts always have a long career in HR and compliance services. They know how to ensure that your employee handbook will be in compliance for every applicable location and industry, as well as the size it will be for the foreseeable future. These services won’t just be crucial to updating your handbook. These services will be key to avoiding serious legal issues, steep fines and penalties, and perhaps even keeping your business open and flourishing.
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