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Updating your policy, but not your handbook

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Q. Our employee handbook says that employees are paid for 40 hours per week as long as they put in at least 38 hours. We recently told employees that, from now on, we pay only for actual hours worked. Do we have to change the handbook, too? — S.Y., New Mexico

A. Yes. The employee handbook should accurately reflect the company’s actual practices. If an inconsistency exists between the employee handbook and what the employees have been told, the handbook should be changed. You may want to add “handbook updating” to a list of regular tasks. It makes little sense to take the time to create a handbook and then put it on the shelf to gather dust.

Regarding the change you outlined in the question, I would recommend making a distinction between exempt and nonexempt employees and state that, “exempt employees are entitled to their full salaries, which is not subject to a reduction.” Remember that exempt employees can’t be docked for time not worked, except in limited circumstances. If you are unsure about your pay policies, consult your attorney, as this is an area of the law where lawsuits are frequent and often successful.


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