An employee handbook is one of the most important documents for an organization. It serves as a foundation for an organization and a way to communicate with current and future employees. With constantly changing laws and legislation, it is increasingly crucial to regularly review this handbook to ensure everything is up to date with the law as well as your organization’s values.
As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), Procare HR understands just how important it is to stay compliant with these new laws. We also understand how difficult of a task it can be to review a large and significant document like an employee handbook. At Procare HR we also have the expertise and resources to aid senior care providers or disability service organizations with this essential duty.
Here are a few steps and tips that we have for an organization to consider when reviewing their employee handbook.
1. Implement a Review Process
Establishing some sort of review process can be helpful and serve as a helpful guide for future review processes. Before beginning the process of reviewing the employee handbook, ensure that there is an appropriate amount of time set up for this. Whether it be in a few or multiple meetings, enough time should be set aside for this task.
Make sure to include the management, HR, and legal teams as well as any key stakeholders in this process. Their input and their expertise are necessary to be included when going through the employee handbook. Getting feedback from employees and staff could also be helpful and give your organization an idea of what you could improve on, provide more clarity on, or add to. Another thing to consider would be consulting with an HR expert like a PEO partner. A PEO like Procare HR has the additional HR expertise and knowledge to guide and assist with reviewing an employee handbook.
To ensure the review process goes more smoothly, assign responsibilities and tasks to the employees in charge of undertaking this as well.
These considerations will make the process of reviewing the employee handbook much easier.
2. Include the Basics
There are certain topics that need to be covered in an employee handbook, so make sure that these are included. According to Indeed, here is a list of pertinent topics for an employee handbook:
- Welcome and new hire processes
- Information about the company
- Company policies
- Legal requirements
- Paid time off policies
- Promotions and compensation
- Performance standards
- Discipline and termination policies
- Health and safety procedures
- Additional resources and contact information
3. Ensure Clarity
Throughout the review process, it’s essential to read through the policies to ensure clarity in the text. Some of the policies included in the handbook can be complicated. One mistake or mishap in clarity could make your organization liable. That’s why it’s essential that your text is clear and understandable to employees.
It’s better to use plain language throughout the document. The text should properly explain the policies but not be overly complicated. Avoiding the usage of jargon or intricate legal terms can help your employees understand the handbook better. Clearly communicate what the policies are, their requirements or rules, and the consequences that come with noncompliance. Make sure to include everything relevant and important to the policy. This will further avoid confusion. A compliance team like the one we have at Procare HR can further aid in reviewing this. With our expertise and knowledge, we can help ensure your handbook is understandable and includes all the necessary information to stay compliant and reduce any sort of organizational risk or liability.
4. Review for Compliance
As mentioned in the introduction, one of the most important things to look out for when reviewing an employee handbook is compliance. There can be changes to employment law every year, so an organization needs to ensure that its employee handbook remains up to date with everything.
Research and stay current with new laws and legislation by reviewing alerts from your state. To ensure your employee handbook stays compliant, you should review federal, state, and local laws on an annual basis and make changes accordingly. If you have locations in multiple states or remote employees, make sure you check the laws in those locations as well. There are care industry-specific regulations that can affect your organization as well. If your organization is having struggles when it comes to keeping up with all this, consider partnering with a PEO like Procare HR. At Procare HR, we have a compliance team that stays up to date with relevant employment law, so you don’t have to. Our team can offer you support and guidance on what you should be looking out for and update your employee handbook.
Once you are aware of these laws and regulations, thoroughly review your employee handbook to confirm that everything is current. Look through company policies and procedures and double-check that everything is compliant. There might need to be edits and revisions to the current text or even whole new additions to accommodate new laws. One idea is to set a renewing calendar reminder to make annual updates to your employee handbook to guarantee consistent compliance with the ever-changing legal environment. This will allow the document to stay up to date and ensure constant compliance.
Here are just some examples of significant policies that your organization should review for compliance, either by updating them or adding them to the handbook if you have not yet:
- Remote and hybrid work
- Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination
- Health and safety
- DEI (Diversity, equity, and inclusion)
- Wage changes
- Emergency procedures
5. Make Sure the Text Aligns with your Organizational Capabilities and Values
It’s also essential to review the handbook to check that your organization can deliver on the promises stated. In certain states, an employee handbook can be enforced as a legal contract so it’s important to make sure you are able to guarantee any promises made to an employee. Besides that, it’s still crucial that you remain honest and transparent about what your organization can provide its employees.
Overall, the employee handbook should also be a display of the organization’s mission, values, and goals. Throughout the document, the text should affirm these values and communicate them to current and potential employees. Procare HR can help with writing this, helping align HR strategy with an organization’s goals and mission. This information can then be passed on to employees so they can understand this as well. Including insight into an organization’s mission, values, goals, and culture can be insightful for all employees and provide them with a better understanding of both their organization as well as their role in it.
6. Inform Employees about Updates
Once you have reviewed the employee handbook and made the necessary revisions and additions, it must be properly updated and dispersed to employees. You should confirm that the version of the handbook that potential employees receive is the updated one. With current employees, it might be helpful to send out an email or other reminders about the updates, so they can promptly read them.
For accessibility, it would be wise to provide readily available digital and printed copies of the employee handbook as well.
An employee handbook is a vital asset and document for an organization. That’s why it’s essential that an organization takes the time to regularly update and review its content to ensure consistent compliance with changing legislation. By doing this, an organization can both guarantee compliance with the law as well as transparency with their employees.
While we offered a handful of tips and guidelines to consider when undertaking this critical task, we know that it can be difficult. If your organization needs any assistance with writing or reviewing their employee handbook, connect with us today to see how we can help.