For individuals, “new year, new you” might mean dedication to a diet or workout plan. For HR departments, that phrase can mean a review and update of employee handbooks.
Due to changing regulations and company priorities, employee handbooks can become out-of-date relatively quickly. When this happens, it can put a company at risk to potential legal action from workers, clients and others. An out-of-date handbook can also out a company and its employees at risk if safety policies are outdated.
In addition to basics like minimum wage and safety issues, consider the following areas of your employee handbook for review and updating, if needed.
Asking applicants about criminal and salary history
Because asking about criminal and salary history has been linked to bias and discrimination, a growing number of states and municipalities are enacting laws banning these types of questions. These laws prevent employers from asking applicants for a salary history or asking if they have a criminal record, at least until a job offer has been made.
If these kinds of laws have been passed in your area, your employee handbook section on hiring practices must reflect any changes.
Many employers are adopting telecommuting or ‘remote work’ policies to support a strong work-life balance for employees.
If your company has started offering staff members the possibility of working remotely, be sure the policy relating to remote work in your handbook is clearly outlined and current.
Regardless of whether your state has passed laws relating to discrimination based on gender identification or sexual orientation, keeping nondiscrimination policies updated is always a good idea.
In areas where it has been legalized or decriminalized, marijuana has become a sticky issue for employers.
Recently, the Society For Human Resources reported that multiple courts found medical marijuana users could take legal action against employers after being fired or not hired due to the use of medicinal marijuana. Given the complex and quickly-changing nature of these laws, it is a good idea to consult an attorney before crafted policy related to marijuana use.
Treating maternity leave differently than paternity leave has caused legal headaches for employees due to accusations that differences are discriminatory.
One approach being used by some organizations are is to alter their leave policy to differentiate between leave for recovering from childbirth and leave to care for a new child.
The scale and rate of natural disasters appears to be on the rise and employers need to ensure that their plan for managing a natural disaster is up to date. Every disaster plan should include information on how to contact employees, evacuation plans and ways to keep essential systems up and running.
Unfortunately, today’s disaster plans also need to account for active shooter situations. The worst thing an employer can do is hope that such a situation will never happen on their grounds.
Are You Hiring?
At Quanta, we support many human resource functions of our clients so they can stay on top of any and all legal issues. Please contact us today to find out how we can support the success of your organization.