If your employee handbook has been gathering dust, now’s the time to update it. Start by doing a quick audit, advised New York attorneys Allan H. Weitzman and Marc A. Mandelman.

Spend a half-hour today ensuring your handbook meets the following criteria at a minimum.

1. Make sure your handbook is not an employment contract.

Be sure your handbook includes a disclaimer stating that nothing in the handbook constitutes a contract or undermines your employment-at-will status. Have all employees sign a statement indicating that they have received a copy of the handbook. Keep a copy of that receipt in every employee’s file.
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2. Plainly state employer rules, regulations and procedures.

Include: Your policies on such topics as access to personnel records, how you conduct investigations, e-mail and Internet usage, attendance, performance appraisals and pay.

3. Describe your policies designed to assist employees.

Include: Your full policies on the ADA; the FMLA, as well as state and local family and medical leaves; pregnancy, disability and child care leave; short-term disability leave; jury duty, bereavement and other leave; employee assistance programs.

Note: “If you do nothing else,” Weitzman counseled, “you must update your handbook to include the new military family leave FMLA regulations.”

4. Communicate your commitment to equal opportunity.

Include: Your complete equal employment opportunity policies and your procedures for investigating harassment and retaliation complaints.
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5. Set guidelines for termination of employment.

Include: Termination notifications, severance pay policies, how you handle post-employment references and grievance or complaint procedures. Here’s where to place information about any arbitration agreements you insist employees sign.

6. Incorporate state and local legal requirements.

Include: Any state or local laws that apply to your employment policies and practices—they’re often more stringent than federal requirements. Consult your attorney to learn what you must include in your handbook.
With Bullet-Proof Your Employee Handbook, you'll soon be able to:
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  • Let employees know about company benefits – without inviting “breach of promise” lawsuits.
  • Guide managers on how to apply policies without painting the organization into a corner.
  • Protect against today’s newest trends in litigation by having policies on dishonesty, dating and one other key area.
  • Eliminate actions that can turn even the most carefully written disclaimers into snap-shut legal traps.
  • Get rid of language about everything from arbitration to leave policies that can put you at risk.
  • Strip your handbook of the 12 mistakes most commonly found in corporate America!
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