Is Your Employee Handbook a Risk Management Tool or a Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?

Having an Employee Handbook can Reduce the Employer’s Litigation Risk.

Most employers recognize that employment law is a fast-changing area of the law.

An Employee Handbook can be a tool to help employers reduce risk by spelling out uniform workplace rules, and by uniformly applying those rules.

The Handbook Ceases to be a Tool if it Isn’t Maintained.

This tool can turn into a hindrance if the employer doesn’t keep it up-to-date following relevant changes in employment law.

For example – California used to be unique in its broad prohibitions on the use of non-compete agreements. Now, states all across the country are passing laws that severely restrict the use of such agreements.

It was also not long ago that doing a criminal background check on prospective employees was considered a prudent business practice.  Now, several states (and some cities) have adopted “Ban the Box” laws that dramatically reduce an employer’s ability to use criminal background checks.

Employers need regularly to have their handbooks reviewed and updated by attorneys who are licensed in their states and who know employment law.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has put a lot of focus in recent years on spelling out what are lawful versus unlawful things to have in one’s Employee Handbook.

Any attorney who is going to update your Handbook must stay on top of the NLRB’s pronouncements in this regard.

Schedule Annual Updates and be Proactive When There is “Breaking News!”

A good risk management practice is to schedule annual reviews of the handbook. You can always speak with your attorney in between the annual reviews if you hear about significant employment law changes.

How do you know a significant change has taken place?  There will typically be news stories with headlines such as: “Governor Brown Signs Landmark ‘Ban-the-Box’ Law!”

The Moral of the Story

Don’t let a good tool deteriorate.  Give it regular care and maintenance by the right legal technician.

Michael Oswald

Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.

© 2019 Michael S. Oswald


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