The New Year is a time of fresh beginnings. Employers may want to take advantage of an opportunity to revisit their employee handbooks. Many employers have already begun this process as workplace sexual harassment claims erupted at the end of last year.
Workplace discrimination is not the only concern. In addition to changing federal laws and regulations, individual states are passing their own laws. Some employers may need to consider preparing state-specific employee handbooks for their employers.
8 areas employers should examine when updating an employee handbook
1. Background checks - "Ban the box" laws, which bar employers from asking prospective employees about criminal history on job applications or until after a conditional job offer has been made, are increasingly common.
2. Leave laws - States are changing the laws governing sick leave and paid family leave. Many states are increasing leave for parents.
3. Disability and FMLA Leave - Some jurisdictions may require employers to provide disability leave beyond FMLA as a reasonable accommodation.
4. Wage and hour laws - Make sure your handbook is current with any potential changes to your state's wage and hour laws.
5. Marijuana laws - Make sure your employer handbook aligns with your state's marijuana laws.
6. Social media - The NLRB has come down on the social media policies of many employers. Employers will want to review their policies to ensure they comply with Section 7 of the NLRA.
7. Arbitration - Class action waivers have been a part of many arbitration agreement provisions, but there is now a question as to whether these waivers violate the NLRA. The Supreme Court is now reviewing a series of consolidated cases on the matter. Oral arguments were heard in October.
8. Workplace conduct - Employers who have not done so already should review their sexual harassment policies and make sure trainings are in place.
Employers will be well served by reviewing their employee handbooks. Periodic review of employee handbooks will ensure that employers are in compliance with the latest laws and will reduce the likelihood of an employer facing an employee claim.