Time to Review Your Employee Handbook
By: Anne E. Baggott
It’s a new year and time again to review your employee handbook. Many policies remain the same year after year. But 2017 brought numerous changes in employment law and human resources compliance that should cause employers to take a close look at their handbooks.
- The Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) focused its attention on several policies in its quest to protect employees’ rights to engage in protected, concerted activity. As a result, employers drafted employee-focused policies concerning confidential investigations, workplace recordings, positive employee attitudes, social media and communications, solicitation, and dress code. In 2017, the Trump Administration appointed several business-minded members to the NLRB. The Board recently issued a decision establishing a new standard for evaluating rules and policies in handbooks that is much friendlier to employers.
- The explosion in harassment claims, and particularly sexual harassment claims, requires employers have strong anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies in place to ensure a respectful work environment. Employers must then also provide effective training to communicate those policies.
- Leaves of absence continue to cause employers headaches. Federal circuit courts of appeal have issued opinions as to whether employers must provide employees extended leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the maximum amount of leave.
- Employers should review the list of protected classes in their policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in order to comply with federal, state, and local laws. For example, a Missouri court of appeals recently recognized sex stereotyping as a form of gender discrimination.
Employers should speak with knowledgeable legal counsel for advice on compliant and up-to-date handbooks and policies.
Contact Anne E. Baggott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-931-2700.