Unit 17 Preview and Introduction
This unit will cover the following topics:
- Applicable Employment Laws
- At-will employment – Handbooks as implied contracts
- Required Provisions
- NLRA Section 7
- Industry Specific Provisions
- Employee Benefits
- Drafting Tips
Every company that employs people needs to have an employee handbook to provide a list of benefits, policies, expectations, procedures, legal obligations, and guidelines. Employee handbooks are unique to every employer and should provide a detailed overview of the foregoing in a way that is specific to the business.
Handbooks serve many functions. One, it is a good way to introduce employees to the company culture, mission, and values. When employees review a handbook that sets forth the company culture, mission, and values, they feel more like they are part of a team – a sense of pride and belonging – which can lead to happier, more productive employees. A handbook is instrumental for communicating what is expected of employees. The handbook will outline procedures for requesting time off, procedures for reporting misconduct, hours of work, etc. It will also provide the benefits that the company offers.
Additionally, the handbook will outline legal notices and what the employee can expect from management. For instance, the handbook will outline policies/notice when one has jury duty.
Of interest to lawyers, is that the handbook can help defend against employee claims. The handbook can serve as additional evidence in a lawsuit with an employee or former employee. It can also minimize the risk of legal claims altogether by encouraging resolution of issues through internal complaint procedures.
This unit cannot and will not provide an exhaustive list of provisions to include in an employee handbook. Your client will need you to make those judgment calls based on the company’s needs.