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April 11, 2012

Mistakes That Can Lead To "Employee Handbook Betrayal"

Filed under: Compliance,Employment Law,General HR Buzz — Tags: 11:58 am

Recently I have received a few questions reminding me of the importance of having a solid policy manual and employee handbook in place.  I was easily able to open our employee handbook, read the policy, and provide answers to the questions I was being asked.  There are times, however, when policies can be as harmful as they can be beneficial.  In the next couple of blogs, I am going to focus on some of the items that can lead to “employee handbook betrayal”.  When writing policies, take the time to do it right or risk being “betrayed” by your handbook.

  • Thinking One Size Fits All. Simply adopting a “one size fits all” handbook and failing to customize it to reflect your actual company policies and your specific state law works about as well as one size fits all shoes…except, you don’t get sued if your shoes are too tight.
  • Dawdling. Don’t fail to update the handbook to incorporate ongoing legal as well as company changes and trends in management practices. The law can change rapidly. You snooze, you can lose…and in a big way.
  • Too Much Yackety, Yack. Providing too many details can confuse employees and provide lots of fodder for plaintiffs’ attorneys. Keep it simple. Use your HR Manual to provide more detailed procedures for your managers.
  • Skipping Yoga And Not Staying Flexible. Avoid using words like “just cause,” “probationary or permanent employee,” “long term or secure employment,” that someone will “always be treated a certain way” and other such phrases that can limit your actions and create unintended promises and contracts. Avoid “shall” or “will” and use “may” as is appropriate. As most private sector employers are employers at-will, it’s important to protect those rights, as your state law allows.  Public sector employers play under different rules.

Did you know that HRN Performance Solutions offers a product to assist you in staying up-to-date and ensuring your policies are current?  We do – as part of our HR Suite product.  In today”s fast paced world, human resource management is one of the most rapidly changing and expanding fields.  Click to learn more…and stay tuned for future blogs with some important tips for employee handbooks!


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