Q: I’m the office manager for a company with about 30 employees. Every year I am responsible for updating the employee handbook and I was wondering if you have any suggestions for what I should be looking for in 2019.
A: Kudos for staying on top of your handbook on a yearly basis. Without annual updates some handbooks languish for years, then employees stop trusting it as an accurate reflection of how you do business. That’s not good.
The changes I’m suggesting for next year are not so much based on new regulations (not much is new) but on what’s happened in our society and our weather. I’ll explain. These are areas I would concentrate on:
#1. Revise drug testing.
Even though your drug-free workplace policy may say that employees who test positive for marijuana may be disciplined or fired, you may want to think twice before doing that. Better yet you might want to revise your company policy altogether.
Although medicinal marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C. You may want to consider treating marijuana as a prescription drug. Or you may want to simply reword your policy so that you give yourself wiggle room to review individual cases before taking action. I don’t think it would be fair to fire someone who tested positive because they just returned from vacation in CO where recreational pot is legal.
#2. Revise anti-harassment policy.
Sure, you probably already have one. But as the #MeToo movement has made headlines across the country many people are equating those stories (which range from seriously criminal rape to pretty benign mansplaining ) with your typical workplace sexual harassment.
For example, conduct that may not be legally actionable may still violate your company’s policy against harassment. Conversely, being subjected to condescension and mansplaining doesn’t constitute sexual harassment. It’s important that employees know the difference, and everyone is clear on what is and what isn’t workplace sexual harassment. Clarify the wording and offer refresher training if needed.
#3. Create a Disaster plan.
Climate change is real. Aside from all the wildfires in the West, we now get multiple devastating hurricanes each year here in the South. The likelihood that your workforce may need t to evacuate or have to work remotely is significant. It’s best to be prepared. If you don’t already have a policy (few employers do) there are lots of resources online, from the state and from my previous columns.
Lastly, -not for the handbook, but don’t forget in Florida we have a new Minimum Wage effective Jan 1, 2019, get your free poster from www.floridajobs.org.
Originally posted on HR Box blog.