Employee Handbook Compliance Audit Tips

Posted by onepoint-admin on Oct 25, 2017 11:54:10 AM

Avoid the common pitfall of the employee handbook


Keep the handbook up to date and stay compliant


The employee handbook is the crucial component for communicating the company's standard policies and practices, however one of the most common employee handbook mistakes is not updating it each year. HR departments that take a “set it and forget it” approach to the employee handbook are putting their organizations at risk.

New federal, state and local laws that pass any given year will impact employers, their workplace policies and ultimately their employee handbooks. If an employer does not update their employee handbook to reflect the new regulations, they could be subject to lawsuits by employees who say they were not aware of company policies.

Here are some common employment law areas employer should include in an annual audit to keep their handbooks up to date:

  1. Update Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policies;
  2. Review Reasonable Accommodation Policies;
  3. Comply with New and Updated Leave Laws;
  4. Incorporate Laws Regarding Military Leave and Other Protections;
  5. Amend Equal Pay and Wage Discrimination Policies;
  6. Amend Equal Pay and Wage Discrimination Policies;
  7. Ensure Safe Driving Policies;
  8. Amend Smoke-Free Workplace Policies;
  9. Address Violence and Weapons in the Workplace; and
  10. Add Predictable Scheduling Policies.

Considering recent legislation passed below is a deeper explanation of new regulations that are likely to require an update to the Employee handbook.

Leave laws


It is important for employee handbook policies to reflect the latest leave laws, especially those on the state and municipal level, such as paid sick leave, safe leave, organ donor leave, or leave to serve in the military or National Guard. Leave law policies are important because they provide employees with knowledge about specifics such as what types of leave they may be entitled to, the reasons for taking leave, the eligibility requirements, the documentation required as well as accrual and how time may be used.


Equal pay and wage discrimination


Employers should take note that over the past year, a number of states and cities have significantly expanded equal pay provisions and enacted legislation promoting wage transparency in order to close the wage gap. Some of these laws expand equal pay protections beyond gender to race and ethnicity, while others prohibit employers from banning discussions regarding salaries and wages by and among employees. Additionally, a new area of focus is laws that prohibit employers from seeking information regarding salary history.


Reasonable accommodations


Reasonable accommodations continue to be at the forefront on the federal, state and local levels. States have enacted or expanded reasonable accommodations for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as expanded required accommodations for individuals who identify as transgender. Based on these developments, an employer should make sure to update its handbook to include policies on reasonable accommodations in the workplace and show compliance with these laws.


Addressing violence and weapons in the workplace


Workplace violence can take many forms, including physical violence, harassment, intimidation and disruption of the workplace. It can affect co-workers, customers and visitors. Under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, an employer is obligated provide a safe working environment, including an environment safe from harm, and minimize the risk of workplace violence. Additionally, many states have workplace safety and violence laws in place. Therefore, it is important for an employer to have policies to prevent workplace violence, ban weapons from the workplace and ensure all employees' safety.


Communication is key

So now the handbook is updated, but do the employees know there has been a change?  Communicating changes to policies and providing a mechanism for questions and feedback is critical for smooth transition and adoption.  Even if a policy change is due to a new law, having an open door policy to provide more detail for anyone interested is a good practice.   

Moreover certain updates to the employee handbook probably require an acknowledgement or confirmation from the employee that they received, reviewed and acknowledge the updates.  HCM solutions like OnePoint simplify this attestation process by being able to control the version of the handbook in the system and push out notifications to employees to review a new policy with an automated electronic confirmation process.  

With the right methods and systems in place keeping the employee handbook, as well as employees, up-to-date can prove to be a worthwhile annual project to keep your employees engaged and lower compliance risk.

Topics: Compliance, HR Tip, Human Resources