This questions is asked a lot by small business owners, “Do we really need a handbook?” And my answer is always a resounding, “YES! Absolutely!!” Then the question is normally followed up by, “how often do we need to update it really?” To which I respond, “if you work in California, then probably at least […]
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This questions is asked a lot by small business owners, “Do we really need a handbook?” And my answer is always a resounding, “YES! Absolutely!!” Then the question is normally followed up by, “how often do we need to update it really?” To which I respond, “if you work in California, then probably at least once a year!” Let’s look into this more closely and uncover why handbooks are so important and why so many HR professionals recommend periodic employee handbook updates.
First and foremost, no particular law requires a company to have an employee handbook. However, 10 out of 10 labor law attorneys and HR professionals recommend companies to have one.
Here are some facts: Your handbook is a guidebook for your employees. On one hand, it tells your company’s story. It describes your history, your culture, your mission, vision, and who you are. On the other hand, it establishes the rules, directives and boundaries by which both the company and employees are expected to behave. Some rules are attached to strict state and/or federal regulations (like OSHA/safety or meal breaks) and some deal with appropriate and professional decorum (respectful behavior or communication in the workplace). In all instances, it lets both sides know what to expect from one another (At Will employment) and what to expect if things go sideways. For example, employees need to know their rights but also where and who to go to in the event of a grievance or workplace violation. They also need to know that certain behavior by employees are not tolerated and will be dealt with in accordance with the company’s discipline and performance improvement plan policies. Actions such as theft, drug and/or alcohol in the workplace, repeated timekeeping violations or failure to take required meal breaks could lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment. However, they also need to know that their rights as they pertain to protected leaves of absences such as Disability, Pregnancy, FMLA, Domestic Violence, and much much more.
Why do handbooks need to be updated every year?
New laws and legislation are passed on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Although most major changes can be implemented at the start of each year, some changes are required mid-year (for example, the latest CA sick leave law began July 2015). Addendums can be released mid-year to avoid too many handbook versions but it is best to audit, edit and distribute new versions at the start of each year.
In a nutshell, a well-crafted and up-to-date employee handbook is used to communicate valuable information (policies, procedures, laws, and legislation) to your employee population about their rights and responsibilities but it also serves as a valuable protective resource to defend the company if the need ever arises.
So if you operate in the state of California and you either don’t have an employee handbook or have not updated it in the last year or two, you’re in need of a new or slightly edited handbook.
Random Handbook Fact:Did you know that the average California handbook contains over 100 policies or procedures and is about 70 pages long?
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and speak to a resident handbook expert who would be happy to help you update or draft a new handbook – often in less than one week. You can also reach us by visiting our Contact Us