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August 23, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Employee Handbook Provisions to Avoid or Use with Caution

I recently read an interesting article with a nice summary of handbook provisions to avoid or use with caution. The article listed clauses: (1) suggesting employment is permanent or more guaranteed after a probationary period; (2) limiting employee rights to act in concert (e.g. prohibiting employee discussions about working conditions or wages); (3) outlining dress codes; (4) regulating off duty conduct; and (5) addressing hiring of spouses and nepotism (because some states prohibit discrimination based on things like marital status. Employers should also remember that handbooks should have clean and clear contract disclaimers and at-will statements and should include policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Handbooks also should consider the impact of employing persons in multiple states because one state may have different or more thorough laws than the laws of another state. As with settlement agreements (discussed above), employee handbooks have legal consequences. Done right, the consequences can be helpful to an employer in dealing with HR law.

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