PIASC Blog

September 9, 2019

Employee Handbook Hazards: Don’t Trust a Template

By PIASC
Employee Handbook Hazards: Don’t Trust a Template

It seems so easy to create an employee handbook. Just look it up online and download one of the many free templates. Easy? Yes. But, is it legally compliant? Is it an asset to your organization?  Most likely, no.

A variety of inexpensive or free handbook template are available online, but there is no guarantee they are updated with current regulations. Even if the template was created in 2018, it could be outdated since there are already changes to implement for 2019.

Boilerplate handbooks can be tricky because they aren’t always appropriate for your organization. Templates for large organizations commonly outline the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is required for businesses with more than 50 employees. If your small business uses a template designed for a larger organization, you might be promising more than you intend to deliver. This creates a scenario for employee dissatisfaction and possible litigation.

Do You Need an Employee Handbook?

If you have an employee, you should have an employee handbook. These guides are essential in every organization because they provide legal protections for an employer. A customized, clear, and legally compliant handbook is an incredible asset to an organization and its employees because it ensures that everyone knows the rules, the perks, and the expectations.

An unclear or outdated handbook can be a landmine for lawsuits and misinformation. Decide now to make your handbook an asset and not a liability.

Where to Start: 

If your organization does not have an employee handbook, you might begin with a template from a trusted source. However, the template should be personalized with the direction of human resource experts and with the guidance and review of an employment attorney. It should be a unique document that reflects the goals and mission of your organization.

If you already have a handbook, it is vital to update and review it regularly because employment laws change often, reflecting our ever-changing social environment.

Make Certain Your Employee Handbook is Legal:

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a new ruling requiring employers to justify that their employee handbooks are legally compliant.Experts recommend updating employee handbooks every six months because federal labor laws change frequently.  State and local laws vary widely and also change frequently. Some policies to consider updating or adding this year include information on equal pay, weapons policies, and the legality of marijuana.

Craft the Employee Handbook as an Asset:

Legal compliance is essential, but a handbook can be so much more. It can be a creative showcase! Employee handbooks are the perfect opportunity to introduce and highlight company culture, benefits, and perks. Some companies use their handbooks as ways to reinforce their unique brand of company culture through use of comics or compelling graphics.  If the handbook is inviting and positive, it is much more likely that your employees will actually read it.

About the Author

PIASC is the largest graphic arts trade association in the country. They are devoted in helping members succeed. For over 80 years, they have been servicing businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Ventura and Clark counties.

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