Employee handbook workshop
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Employee Handbook Workshop. Presented by: Pat Collins Annmarie Simeone Keith McDonald. Please help yourself to food and drinks Please let us know if the room temperature is too hot or cold Bathrooms are located past the reception desk on the right Please turn OFF your cell phones

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Employee Handbook Workshop

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Employee handbook workshop

Employee Handbook Workshop

Presented by:

Pat Collins

Annmarie Simeone

Keith McDonald

Employee handbook workshop

Please help yourself to food and drinks

Please let us know if the roomtemperature is too hot or cold

Bathrooms are located past the reception desk on the right

Please turn OFF your cell phones

Please complete and returnsurveys at the end of the seminar

Common mistakes and pitfalls practice considerations

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls, Practice Considerations

Presented by:

Pat Collins

What is the purpose of your handbook

What Is The Purpose of Your Handbook?

  • Communication Resource

    • Company mission, values, policies, procedures and benefits

  • Limits Legal Liability

    • Protects against discrimination and unfair treatment claims

    • Explains applicable laws

  • Administrative Time Saver

    • Helps orient new employees

    • Answers questions that arise during employment

What should your handbook accomplish

What Should Your Handbook Accomplish?

THREE “C’s”:

  • Not a Contract

  • Communicate policies

  • Comply with applicable law

What a handbook is not

What A Handbook Is Not

  • Not Personnel Policy Manuals

    • These are procedural guides for managers on how to do their jobs

    • Usually not given to employees

  • No substitute for good practices

    • Policies are worthless unless management follows them

  • No substitute for personal interaction

    • Cannot take the place of one-on-one interaction between management and employees

Mistake 1 one shoe does not fit all using form handbooks

Mistake #1: One Shoe Does Not Fit AllUsing Form Handbooks

  • Handbooks must be tailored to your workplace

  • Forms:

    • May contain irrelevant policies

    • May omit important material

    • May make promises you cannot meet

  • Your Handbook must set the right tone for your company and reflect your company’s culture

  • SAY “When driving a company car, always use a headset” INSTEAD OF “Don’t use cell phones without a headset”

Mistake 2 do as i say not as i do conflicting policies practices

Mistake #2: Do As I Say, Not As I DoConflicting Policies/Practices

  • Scan workplace for practices. If there are no policies, develop them.

  • Do policies reflect practice in workplace?

    (“You will receive an Annual performance review”)

  • Use wiggle room language

    (“Generally we attempt to review your performance on an annual basis”)

  • Uniformity and Consistency in Application/Enforcement

  • Compare Handbook to other company documents (benefit documents) to ensure consistency

Mistake 3 too much ain t enough is your handbook too wordy

Mistake #3: Too Much Ain’t EnoughIs Your Handbook Too Wordy?

  • Write to the level of your entire employee population

  • When you can, keep it simple

    • Policies explaining company practices, benefits, etc. should be short and easy to understand

  • Employment laws sometimes make brevity a challenge

    • Family and Medical Leave Act

    • Harassment and Discrimination laws

  • Still, avoid overly legalistic language

    • No “Whereas” or “Heretofores”

  • Do we really need a policy on this topic?

  • Do not include employee names, other information that changes frequently

Mistake 4 not a contract means not a contract

Mistake #4: Not A Contract Means Not A Contract

Eliminate any language that might be perceived as creating rights contrary to employment at will

  • “Probationary”; “Permanent”

  • Lock step disciplinary practices

  • Listing disciplinary offenses

  • Arbitration Agreements

  • Non-Competition/Confidentiality Agreements

  • Employee Invention Agreements

Mistake 5 can i bring my gun to work conforming to state laws

Mistake #5: Can I Bring My Gun To Work? Conforming to State Laws

  • Weapons in the Workplace

  • Access to Personnel Records

  • Family/Pregnancy Leave

  • Payment on Termination

  • Accrual of Vacation


    “. . . unless otherwise required by state law.”

Mistake 6 navigating the bermuda triangle

Mistake #6: Navigating “The Bermuda Triangle”

Family Leave, Disability Leave and Workers Compensation

  • Three distinct laws which often overlap

  • Three different government agencies in charge of enforcing

    FMLA – Heavy paperwork, 12 weeks of leave

    ADA – Providing more leave may be “reasonable accommodation”

    COMP – Anti- retaliation

Mistake 7 did you hear about privacy issues

Mistake #7: “Did You Hear About…?”Privacy Issues

  • Medical Privacy – HIPAA may require privacy and security safeguards

  • Confidential Business Information

  • Computer/Internet/Technology Issues

  • Searches on Employee Property

  • Compensation Information

  • Who is in charge of safeguarding this information?

  • Is importance reflected in your policies?

Mistake 8 are you kidding me unrealistic policies

Mistake #8: Are You Kidding Me?Unrealistic Policies

Don’t commit to a policy that can’t be enforced

  • No fault attendance policy

  • Strict progressive discipline policies

    Avoid Rigidity

  • Listing prohibited conduct

  • Personal appearance policies

  • Personal/romantic relationships

    Avoid language which unduly limits discretion

Mistake 9 i thought it was a gift equipment use and return

Mistake #9: I Thought It Was A Gift!Equipment Use and Return

  • Laptops, cell phones, tools, vehicles, uniforms, etc.

  • What does your policy state about the use of such equipment?

    • at work

    • on the employees personal time

      Policy should clearly state:

  • Equipment belongs to the Employer

  • Policies to guide proper use, care and return of property

  • Consequences if equipment is damaged, lost or not returned

Mistake 10 failure to update and train

Mistake #10: Failure To Update and Train

  • Once Handbook is written, it must be periodically reviewed and revised to reflect changes

    • Law – Policy – Procedure

  • Who is in charge of this?

  • How often should this be done?

  • As Company grows, different laws may apply

  • Are your supervisors trained on policies?

    • Trained on changes/revisions

    • Company’s vision/culture

Policy must haves

Policy Must Haves

Presented by:Annmarie Simeone



Policy Must Haves


Policy Options

The beginning and the end

The Beginning and The End

The beginning At-Will Disclaimer and General


The end Acknowledgement of Receipt

(Employee Copy and Employer


Equal employment opportunity policy

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

  • Commitment to equal opportunity

  • Any special programs

  • Application to all facets of employment

Anti harassment anti discrimination policies

Anti-Harassment & Anti-Discrimination Policies

  • Zero tolerance

  • Include sample prohibited behavior – they are prohibited even if they are not illegal

  • Complaint procedure with several avenues for reporting

    e.g., Supervisor, HR, Hotline, anonymous reporting, dedicated website

  • Investigation

  • No retaliation

Employee classifications

Employee Classifications

  • Regular

  • Full Time

  • Part Time

  • Probationary/ “Introductory”

  • FLSA classifications

Employee benefits

Employee Benefits

  • Another disclaimer!

  • Eligibility

  • Right to modify

  • General overview – leaving flexibility

  • Reference to master documents

  • 401k

Hours of work

Hours of Work

  • Business Hours

    • Regular hours

    • Special days/late nights

    • Inclement weather

  • Making Schedules/Changing Schedules

    • How are schedules established?

    • Can they be altered by employee agreement (switching) or is manager approval needed?

    • Posted, circulated electronically

  • Telecommuting/Flex Time

Payroll practices

Payroll Practices

  • Timekeeping /Reporting

  • Overtime

  • Pay Periods

  • Bonuses/Commissions

  • Deductions – mandatory and voluntary

Time away from work

Time Away From Work

  • Attendance and Punctuality

  • Vacation

  • Personal Days

  • Sick Days

  • Accommodations (Disability/Religious)

Federal and state statutes

Federal and State Statutes

  • FMLA


  • NJ Paid Family Leave

  • CEPA/Whistleblower (mandatory in NJ)

Employee conduct policies

Employee Conduct Policies

Some topics that are must haves, include

  • Rules of Conduct

  • Drug/Alcohol

  • Confidentiality

  • Disciplinary Policy

  • Dress Codes

  • Workplace Violence



  • No expectation of privacy

  • E-mail

  • Internet

  • Social Media

  • Blogging

  • Mobile devices (cell phone, laptop, Blackberry®, PDA)

Termination of employee employer relationship

Termination of Employee-Employer Relationship

  • Final paychecks

  • Exit interviews


  • Employee references

Presented by keith mcdonald

Practical Considerations

Planning, Customizing and Distributing Your Employee Handbook

Presented by:Keith McDonald

On your mark get set go

On your mark - get set - go!!

  • Starting from Scratch or Updating an Oldie?

  • Incorporating Existing Policies and Practices

    • Opportunity for Change

    • Feedback from Employees

  • Creating Goals and Objectives

    • User Friendly Format

    • Creating Expectations

    • Fairness

Handbooks 101 the creation process

Handbooks 101: The Creation Process

  • Investigate

  • Compile and Write

  • Review and Revise

  • Legal Approval

Formatting tips

Formatting Tips

  • Table of Contents/Index

  • Spacing and Bold-Faced Headings

  • Use Chapters (not page numbers)

  • Know Your Culture

    • Use of tone

    • Use of color, graphics, etc.

Customizing understanding your workforce

Customizing – Understanding Your Workforce

  • Need for Multiple Handbooks

    • Multi-state Employers

      • Use of Addendums

    • Management Levels

      • Upper Level Management

      • Field Employees

  • Union Employees

Customizing identifying special provisions

Wage and Hour

Employee References

Workplace Violence and Weapons

Drug Testing

Tuition Reimbursement

Privacy Concerns


Employee Workspaces

Customizing – Identifying Special Provisions

The final product selecting a format

The Final Product –Selecting a Format

  • Print Format

    • Bound booklet

    • Three-ring binder

    • Posting

  • Electronic Format

    • Intranet vs. Internet

    • Email

Avoid jumping the gun understand your handbook

Avoid Jumping the GunUnderstand Your Handbook

  • Training HR Administrators and Management Team

  • Reviewing “Other” Documents

  • Incorporating Feedback

  • Attorney Review

Distributing your handbook

Distributing Your Handbook

  • Hold a Meeting

  • New Hire Procedures

  • Updates

    • Consistency

  • Protections

    • Union considerations

    • Privacy concerns

Acknowledgement acknowledgement acknowledgement

Acknowledgement!Acknowledgement! Acknowledgement!

  • Collecting and Storing Employee Acknowledgment Forms

  • Choosing the Right Words

    • “received and read”

  • The Problem Employee Who Refuses to Sign

Handbook acknowledgement form

Handbook Acknowledgement Form

By signing this form, I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the Company’s Employee Handbook. I understand that it contains important information about the Company’s policies, that I am expected to read the Handbook and familiarize myself with its contents, and that the policies in the Handbook apply to me. I understand that nothing in the Handbook constitutes a contract or promise of continued employment and that the company may change the policies in the Handbook at any time.

I acknowledge that my employment is at will. I understand that I have the right to end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, with or without notice, with or without cause, and that the Company has that same right. I acknowledge that neither the Company nor I have entered into an employment agreement for a specified period of time.

Signed _________________________Date _____________________

Going forward

Going Forward

  • Training

    • Human Resources Personnel

    • Employee Training

  • Revising and Updating Your Handbook

  • Enforcing What is Written

  • Consulting Your Employment Attorney

Question answer session

Question & Answer Session

Thank you for coming!

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