Bring Your Employee Handbook Up-to-Date With These New Policies

November 22, 2017  

If you haven’t taken the time to update your employee handbook in a while, it’s probably a good idea to revisit it. The world is changing quickly, and employers have considerations in the workplace that weren’t issues or didn’t even exist 20 years ago.

But even if it was less than 20 years ago that you made an employee handbook, there’s a good chance there are some new situations you will want to address. You don’t want to have to revise your policies AFTER a problem arises. Here are some important thoughts on how to make an employee handbook that is relevant and modern.

  1. Social Media

Employee handbook policies regarding social media are among the newest to appear, but they can be the most important. For example, you may not be aware that the National Labor Relations Act does not allow you to prohibit employees from sharing general information like wages and hours on social media, but you can stop them from sharing trade secrets or other proprietary information.

You will also want to have clear guidelines on appropriate use of digital devices and social media sites during work hours. If there will be consequences to your employees for talking inappropriately about the job, management or staff on social media even on off-hours, this should be made clear in the handbook for the protection of both labor and management.

  1. E-Cigarettes

Since vaping devices and e-cigarettes are not technically cigarettes, employees may be confused about company policy regarding them. Although these devices do not produce the same kind of smoke that cigarettes do, they do produce a vapor that may be irritating to other employees, so you may want to restrict their use to certain areas and hours.

  1. Background Checks

You are entitled to do background checks on your employees, but the way you can administer background checks can change from year to year as your state passes different employee legislation. For example, Pennsylvania state agencies will no longer ask applicants about prior criminal convictions.

Your employee handbook should let your employees know how, when and what you will check regarding their background.

  1. Telecommuting

20 years ago, telecommuting was a rare luxury afforded to employees who had special circumstances or who had earned extraordinary favor with the company. Now, thanks to the internet and the proliferation of digital devices and services, telecommuting is approaching mainstream status.

According to a recent Gallup survey, a full 43 percent of American employees spent at least some time working remotely and 31 percent of those who work remotely do all of their work offsite. Clearly, this situation requires more rules regarding telecommuting and working from home. Telecommuting issues you will want to address in your employee handbook include:

  • How much of a person’s job can they do from home?
  • Is the employee required to be in full contact (at the computer with messaging active), throughout fixed telecommuting hours or is there flexibility?
  • Are there equipment requirements for working from home, such as a computer with a certain amount of memory or an internet connection that allows certain speeds?
  1. Wages and Payroll

Overtime and deductions are two issues that often confuse employers and can lead to conflicts and even legal action.

According to Federal law, you must pay your employees for overtime — that is, work they perform outside of their established business hours. However, employees cannot simply choose to work overtime to collect extra pay. They need to get permission from their manager in advance or they may be subject to discipline. You should make this clear in the employee handbook.

You should also make it clear that a non-exempt employee is not authorized to do business or even open job-related emails after work hours unless you don’t mind a fight over paying these employees overtime.

As far as improper deductions go, the handbook should outline a clear protocol for correcting an improper deduction. Otherwise, you may be subject to government penalties.

A good way to sidestep payroll issues is to hire a professional payroll services company to handle your wages and payroll. BCM Payroll Services in central Pennsylvania, also servicing western Maryland, can handle all your pay issues for you, including overtime and deductions, while making sure you keep complete control over your employees’ hours and wages.

We handle all the calculations. If we make a mistake, we pay for it so you never have to worry. With all you have to worry about already regarding managing your employees, payroll shouldn’t take up your time unnecessarily. If you’re ready to have one less issue on your plate when managing your staff, you can contact BCM Payroll Services, Inc. right now for a quote on our payroll solutions.

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