Do your employee handbooks reflect recent labor laws?
A well-written employee handbook should detail not only the company’s expectations for their employees but also describe what they can expect from the company. It should also describe any legal obligations as an employer as well as and your employee’s rights.
For better or worse, these obligations and rights are constantly changing as defined by Federal and state law. Here is a rundown on just a few of the most recent changes:
Same-sex marriage ruling – According to a recent SCOTUS ruling, it is now mandatory to afford the same rights to homosexual couples as to heterosexual couples. Be especially careful as to how the company manual refers to spouses and significant others. Similarly, the manual should detail that it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on his or her sexual orientation or sexual presentation.
Family Leave Act – A plethora of unrelated issues involving this “older” government program informed the government bureaucracy that new rules should be instituted. The bottom line was that employers subject to the FMLA would need to make immediate changes to their handbook descriptions of employee rights. Was your company prepared?
Pay transparency rule – In the “good old days” employees were not only discouraged but actually prohibited from discussing their pay levels with other employees. No longer. A recent Supreme Court ruling outlawed this practice for contractors working for the Federal government. The intrusion into private companies is only a matter of time.
Cell phones and texting – Government guidance has not been particularly forthcoming on this issue in the workplace. Nevertheless, we can assume that they will eventually get around to it. While they can afford to be lax on the issue, private companies cannot. Have a policy in place but be ready to make a 180 degree turn if necessary.
Legal use of marijuana – Even more complicated is the issue of marijuana in the workplace – especially in states where the medical variety is legal. Err on the side of prudence – from a liability standpoint, it is best – but be prepared for the government to challenge every one of your company’s decisions if the final results are not politically correct.