Does your business have an employee handbook for your employees?
Let’s look at the advantages of having one:
Advantages of an Employee Handbook
- A well written employee handbook eases the orientation process for new employees.
- If written well, it communicates policies and procedures to employees.
- It reduces confusion/misunderstanding about practices/expectations.
- It provides helpful guidance for supervisors.
- It should contribute to uniform application, interpretation and enforcement of all company practices and procedures.
- If written well, it fulfills legal requirements for notifying employees about required
policies (e.g. sexual harassment, paid sick leave, benefits, etc.).
Are there disadvantages to having a handbook? Some – yes.
- Written poorly, it may lock an employer into an unintended express or implied contract.
- When a company uses an employee handbook, making exceptions can at times be problematic and, when allowed, could expose company to discrimination claims if not uniformly applied.
- It may be difficult to change the terms of a handbook, even when an employer implicitly reserves the right to change language, since mere continuation of employment may not provide sufficient consideration of an employee’s rights (Connecticut Supreme Court: consideration is needed for amendments to a company’s employee handbook that change “the rights afforded to an employee in a way that materially interferes with that employee’s legitimate expectations about the terms of his/her employment”).
- May limit actions which an employer can take in circumstances not specifically contemplated by handbook.
- A comprehensive set of personnel policies can provide easy access to valuable information concerning your company to unintended users of that information. (i.e., competitors, labor unions, etc.).
- With the many frequent changes in employment and labor law, a failure to keep a handbook/policies up-to-date can be legally problematic for an employer.
So should every employer have one?
Sadly, disputes between employees and employers increasingly end up in litigation as a result of the many employment statutes that have been enacted in the last few decades. As a result, it is in every employer’s best interest to protect itself from potential litigation by using every resource possible – and that includes a well written employee handbook. What’s more, employers that have employee manuals and handbooks are much more likely to apply policies in a consistent manner, regardless of an employee’s traits such as age, gender or race – again affording those employers a degree of protection against discrimination lawsuits.
If you’re an employer and need help writing or reviewing your employee handbook, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing, and one thing alone – we are a Connecticut employer defense law firm – we work to protect the interests of employers throughout the region. What’s more, each of our Connecticut attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please call us if we can help you.
The information provided above is made available by Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C. for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific legal advice to your individual circumstances or legal questions. You acknowledge that neither your reading of, nor posting on, this site establishes an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of the attorneys in our firm. This information should not be used as a substitute for seeking competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state nor is it provided for the specific purpose of soliciting your business on any particular matter. Readers of this information should not act upon anything communicated in it without seeking professional counsel.