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THE LAW. While law doesn't directly regulate employee handbooks, they are extremely important legal tools. A handbook documents your policies, builds trust and helps you comply with federal and state laws. It even allows you to prepare favorable evidence ahead of time in case you are hit with a lawsuit.

But a handbook can work against you if it's written poorly, outdated, inconsistent with the way your company operates or gives employees the impression that it's an employment contract. And handbooks often become prime pieces of evidence in court.

Under most state laws, whenever no employment contract exists, a worker is employed on at "at-will" basis. This means the employee can be fired at any time for any reason.

WHAT'S NEW. Federal and state laws, along with a growing number of court decisions, continue to chip away at this at-will protection. Some situations require employers not to dismiss an employee or to...(register to read more)

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