Why is having an up-to-date employee handbook so important?

Business owners should ensure their employee handbook is up to date to prevent lawsuits relating to harassment and discrimination.

An employee handbook is a comprehensive document that includes information employees may need to refer to on a regular basis so they are able to successfully meet the terms and conditions of their employment status. Not only should businesses in Massachusetts ensure their company has an employee handbook, but they should update it regularly to avoid lawsuits regarding harassment or discrimination.

Basic guidelines

There are some basic guidelines businesses should follow as they update their handbook, and they include the following:

  • Business owners should make sure their employees can acquire the manual easily and ensure the document is easy to read and understand.
  • Management staff should be well trained regarding the policies included in the handbook and how to uphold them.
  • Business owners should make sure they update their manual to address modern issues. For example, the handbook should address the company's policies on race and gender, bathroom use and accommodations for employees with physical impairments.

The manual should also cover the organization's policies on healthcare coverage, and the handbook should plainly state that the company reserves the right to change coverage at its own discretion. This is essential because employees can oppose these changes by filing a lawsuit after a company alters their healthcare coverage options.

What to include

Although every company will have different information they want to include in their handbook, there are four main sections every one of these guidebooks should include. First, business owners should craft a brief section that covers the company's history and its mission. This can set the tone for the rest of the handbook.

Second, the handbook should cover the company's vacation policy, including how to schedule time off and how vacation time is earned. Third, business owners should add an employee behavior section, which can cover topics like rest periods, the attendance policy and general expectations regarding employee conduct. Finally, the handbook should include a pay and promotions section where methods of payment will be discussed. This is also where work hours should be defined as well as the company's overtime policy and pay grade structure.

Reach out to an attorney

An up-to-date employee handbook is a valuable tool for businesses of any size in Massachusetts, and reviewing and updating this document often can prevent employee issues and potential lawsuits. Those who need assistance putting together an effective employee manual for their company should contact an attorney in their area.