Every business should consider providing or updating their company employee handbooks to reflect current trends that are highly relevant in today’s workplace. The perception that employee handbooks are bland stacks of standard policies lead some employers to become static in routines and forget to employ creative and strategic policies that can provide important benefits to the company.
Consider, at least, the following six policy areas recognized as major areas of focus:
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has been increasing its compliance enforcement efforts, and employers must understand how to initiate proper assessment in various areas of wage and hour laws (e.g. employee vs. independent contractor, exempt vs. non-exempt, full-time vs. part-time).
Health and safety
Another area of DOL attention involves safe and productive workplace environments. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires covered employers to maintain a workplace that is free of hazards. Having specific policies in place is a key part of the process. We even have a general OSHA safety guide for employers that you can find here.
With the increasing usage of social networking sites and technological equipment (i.e. smart phones), employers should remain mindful of how their employees are using the internet and thus how they may be promoting your business and the image of the company. In addition, social media can cross barriers between confidentiality and privacy rights. So, a sound policy would be able to pinpoint the functionality and appropriate time frames that allow for social media usage during work as well as non-work hours.
Telecommuting can be used as an important recruitment and retention tool, and more companies are allowing more workers to work remotely more often.
Whether trying to stay on top of various health care reform laws, apply family medical leave updates, or provide vacation and sick leave time-off, it is vital for employers to ensure that their benefits-related policies remain current.
Paid Family Leave (for New York employers, specifically)
Part of New York's new Paid Family Leave Act requires employers provide all employees with a policy template. The policy template is designed to explain the law in detail - including how employees can file claims, etc. - and should be updated to the employee handbook by January 1, 2018. Fortunately, we've created a policy template for you that you can download and customize for your business. Check it out here.