Thursday, January 8, 2009

Five “must haves” for your employee handbook


I’m in the process of drafting an employee handbook, which got me thinking – what are the policies that every handbook absolutely must contain? I came up with a list of the top five “must have” policies.

  1. At-will employment disclaimer. I can’t imagine anything worse than an employee being able to successfully claim that an employee handbook creates a contract with the employer, or provides something on which the employee can reasonably and justifiably rely. This disclaimer should be in writing, both in the handbook and on a receipt that employees sign and is placed in their personnel files.

  2. Anti-harassment. It’s impossible to take advantage of the Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense for harassment liability without a policy of which employees can avail themselves.

  3. No-solicitation. In light of the implications of the Employee Free Choice Act, it is vitally important to safeguard against non-business uses of company property. Any non-solicitation policy should cover written and oral solicitations, in addition to e-mail and computer systems.

  4. Technology. A comprehensive technology policy guards against improper uses of e-mail and computer systems, limits personal uses of company property, tempers employees’ privacy expectations, and protects against potential harassment liability. A very versatile policy that no business should be without.

  5. FMLA. If your company is covered by the FMLA, it is required to have an FMLA policy. The new regulations clarify this obligation.

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