Hopefully, you don’t have any employees who stay up nights looking for ways to create trouble.

Who needs employees that cause legal hassles? The energy, time and money to deal with legal issues are exhaustive.

So to guard against it and to enhance your management, what are doing about your employee handbook?

Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies.

Statutory changes occur regularly.

An outdated employee handbook is worse than if you don’t even have a handbook.

A legally obsolete handbook will work against you and provide explosive supportive facts in legal proceedings against your company that would otherwise be unsuccessful.

You must be diligent to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.

So you might be using obsolete policies, if you don’t regularly evaluate your employee handbook.

If that’s the case, don’t be surprised when you’re hit with employee-legal issues.

That’s right, you should be reviewing and updating your handbook wherever necessary and at least annually. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble.

You need to make certain your handbook doesn’t buttress your company’s culture against present-day discrimination laws.

In other words, make certain your handbook doesn’t contain verbiage that’s no longer acceptable to regulators or the courts.

An ideal handbook adequately addresses your policies, but dissuades a lawyer from pursuing action against your company.

It’s paramount to publish an updated handbook that will impress aggressive regulators or impressionable jurors.

Have a qualified attorney review your handbook regularly, and any new draft before it’s finalized.

Certainly, after any updates, you want your policies to be accepted and followed, right? So market your HR policy changes to employees.

Checklist of handbook principles

Here are employee-handbook values to consider:

  1. Make certain your policies comply with all federal and state laws.
  2. Don’t include any political statements and opinions – that includes any judgments about labor organizing.
  3. Plan ahead. In both your handbook and the employee-acknowledgment form, clearly state that the handbook is not a contract and that the company reserves the right to make future changes.
  4. When you revise your handbook, make certain everyone disposes of the old handbook. Get each person to sign a receipt for the updated handbook.
  5. Take steps to be certain employees read the handbook.
  6. Omit from your handbook the following – managerial instructions, an arbitration clause, a list of benefits, particulars on leaves of absence, minutiae that’s likely to change often, unenforceable policies, and any pledges you don’t think you’ll be able to keep.
  7. Make sure your writing style is respectful, and uncomplicated in an easy-to-read format.
  8. In a diversified workforce, see to it your employees are informed of their rights in a language they understand.
  9. Don’t tie your hands. If your policies indicate a list of activities that will result in disciplinary actions – including terminations – make it clear that the sample activities are not exhaustive but just illustrative in nature.
  10. Encourage your team members to bring any complaints to management and/or to a union if applicable.
  11. Be very clear about harassment. Make certain every person knows that harassment that violates federal and state laws is not tolerated.
  12. Include procedures for employees to use if they want to claim harassment.
  13. Make sure your handbook is comprehensive and up-to-date.
  14. Be certain all rules are written to be evenhanded and enforced consistently.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for related information:

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy? — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

First Step in Fighting Lawsuit Abuse – Risk Management — Published reports on two southern California media Web sites illustrate the polarizing effects of laws affecting business. They’re applicable now even though they were published in November 2011.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

Effectively Manage ADA Issues in Your Facilities and HR — Disabled persons have had both valid and invalid complaints about the workplace. Such complaints concern your facilities and human resources program. Here are strategies to consider implementing.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. If you’re so accused, here’s what to do.

“The five steps in teaching an employee new skills are preparation, explanation, showing, observation and supervision.”

-Bruce Barton


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.