Creating an Effective Employee Manual Post 2

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Communicating Policies to Employees

If It’s Your First Handbook: If you have never published an employee handbook before, the initial presentation of the handbook should be carefully planned to ensure a clear understanding of the policies and a positive attitude toward compliance. If policies in the handbook formalize previously “unofficial” procedures, or change how employees “thought” it worked, give employees time to digest the new handbook and remove feelings of “surprise” by releasing it before its effective date.
New Employees: Always include the employee handbook in the orientation process for new employees. Be sure to include the following items on your New Hire Checklist form:
Review handbook
Obtain signed employee acknowledgement form

NOTE: Include a right to revise statement in your handbook. If your original handbook did not include a right-to-revise statement, you may wish to consult with legal counsel before issuing policy revisions, particularly in the areas of employment-at-will, discipline, or termination.

Employee Acknowledgements
Most attorneys recommend that you have some method for ensuring that an employee is informed of the organization’s policies. One of the best ways is to ask the employee to sign an acknowledgement form upon receipt of the handbook. This is usually done upon initial employment or when the handbook is issued or changed.A signed acknowledgement form should document the employee’s receipt of the handbook and the employee’s acknowledgement of the nature of the employment relationship. Once signed, the form gives you a record of the employee’s agreement to comply with handbook policies and should be filed in the employee’s personnel file. Numerous wrongful-termination suits have hinged on the employer’s ability to produce the signed and dated acknowledgement form referencing that employment was at-will and that the employee received and accepted the organization’s policies.

IMPORTANT: Just as with the original employee handbook, most attorneys recommend that you distribute policy changes in such a way that you can later prove, if necessary, that each employee was notified of the change. Be sure to consider carefully whether or not you want to have employees formally acknowledge receipt.

Managing Your Handbook
An employee handbook is an ongoing management tool that must be administered properly to retain its effectiveness. A positive employee interpretation is the result of careful planning in creating it, introducing it, and keeping it up-to-date.
Keeping Policies Up-To-Date
Personnel policies can rapidly become out-of-date due to evolving human resources practices, changes in federal and state laws, and new court decisions. Out-of-date policies lose their effectiveness and may leave you open to legal problems.