Two Employee Handbook Updates to Consider




Q:  We like to give our employee handbook a quick review at the beginning of each year, do you recommend any particular additions or updates?

A:  This a great time to take a quick look at your employee handbook and determine if there are updates or changes you’d like to make based on what happened the previous year.  Were employees confused about how and when to call in sick? Were there problems that might be rectified by re-wording a policy?  More importantly, did anything change in society or the courts that require you to update an existing policy or add a new one?

I can’t help you with the former, but here’s my advice on the latter.  I would review policies on sexual harassment and policies on drug-use.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment got a ton of attention last year, deservedly so.  Your policy should be clear and unequivocal.  Make sure it explains/defines what sex harassment is (unwelcomed, repeated, hostile, intimidating, offensive) and isn’t (flirting).  Who can be an offender (peers, superiors, vendors, customers, same or opposite sex) and be offended (the victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct).  And most importantly, make sure there is an avenue to complain.  The complaint procedure should be easy and offer more than one option (supervisor, HR, any member of management).

Remember policies are useless unless employees are trained.  Offer training yearly, preferably in person.  Don’t forget managers need additional brief training on their responsibilities as agents of the company.

Drug use and drug testing

Drug use and drug testing – in recent years several states have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use.  In 2017 Florida approved the use of medical marijuana.

But as noted by XpertHR, “even in states in which marijuana use is legal, courts have recognized that employers may enforce drug-free workplace policies and lawfully prohibit employees from using marijuana during working hours and while on the employer’s premises, much the same as alcohol use.”

The key is to make sure your policy prohibits being “under the influence” while working or while on the premises.  That includes pot, alcohol or prescription meds.

Applicants and employees should be clear when to expect drug testing (usually pre-employment and post-accident), and what happens when you flunk (denied employment, termination, referral for help, subject to random testing).

Bottom line, on both policies, be clear and consistent.


Originally posted on HR Box blog.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: