It shouldn’t surprise you that an employment lawyer will advise you to have an employee handbook.
But it may surprise you is that I would rather you have no handbook than one you write yourself.
Why would I say that?
Well, a handbook is an important legal document in lawsuits and labor audits. If you have non-compliant policies, it can create presumed liability automatically. In other words, non-compliant policies are like an admission of guilt.
In some cases, no written policies (for example, with respect to certain breaks, required notices, and pay policies) can also create a presumption of guilt. But non-compliant policies are a greater danger.
By far, my recommendation is that you have a lawyer-drafted, compliant employee handbook. Here is a short video on four good reasons why:
So now you know why you should have an employee handbook. Is downloading one off of an internet resource good enough?
NO! Employment laws are complex and numerous. Boilerplate employee handbooks often have provisions that sound reasonable to you as the employer, but are in fact illegal in some jurisdictions or may mislead you into doing something illegal.
I write several handbooks a year. I have never found a good template off a website (and I have tried several). I ended up creating my own template and checklist for management decisions. (You can choose different policies depending on how you want to run your business, and I advise on the financial, business and legal implications of those decisions as part of the drafting process.)
An employee handbook is a 50 page legal document that you should not attempt to DIY. Call a pro. And keep it updated!
Does it matter if I have an employee handbook?
“Does it matter if I have an employee handbook?” Yes! Here are four good reasons why. 1. A handbook teaches your managers and your employees the proper and legal way to do things. It’s not always commonsense. 2. A handbook empowers you to politely tell an employee “No” to a special request because it is against policy. This keeps everything fair. 3. A handbook can be used to defend you, should an employee lie about a situation to a court or governmental agency. 4. Employers are required to provide certain notices in writing to their employees, and a handbook is a good way to do it. Failure to provide these notices can result in lawsuits, fines and even criminal penalties. So yes, a handbook is essential and it should be reviewed by an employment lawyer annually. Does your business need employment law help? Visit us at bellatrixlaw.com to apply for our Employer Protection services.
You can find the full video on Employee Handbooks on YouTube.