Employee Handbooks: 5 Workplace Policy Revisions to Consider for the New Year

“For many employers, the employee handbook sits up on a shelf gathering dust. Some may not even think about company policies until there is a problem, and then it may be too late. The upcoming new year is a perfect time to make a resolution to review and revise your employee handbook to take advantage of recent changes in the law and to protect against future litigation.” (New Year, New Rules by McAfee & Taft)

Considering your new year’s resolutions? Consider adding an employee handbook update to the list. Here are five workplace policies you may want to revise, from lawyers and law firms on JD Supra:

1. Social Media Policies:

“If your company adopted a social media policy more than two months ago, or, if your company modeled its policy after one of the sample policies available on the Internet, then there is a very good chance that your social media policy is overbroad and needs to be revised. For example, if your social media policy prohibits social media activity that disparages the company without making it very clear that this prohibition does not include protected concerted activity, then your policy needs to be amended.” (Your Social Media Policy May Need Revamping by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP)

2. Discrimination Policies:

“Based on increased activity by the EEOC [in 2011], employers need to review and revise, if necessary, their discrimination and harassment policies to ensure they are up-to-date. With the EEOC being aggressive in its pursuits to dispose of cases as well as the increased success in obtaining awards for discrimination victims, employers must protect themselves against these types of claims.” (Employers Should Update Their Discrimination Policies in Light of the EEOC’s Increased Awards for Discrimination Victims in 2011 by Cole Schotz)

3. Leave of Absence and Attendance Policies:

“Over the past few years, the EEOC has aggressively challenged employers’ leave of absence and attendance policies under the ADA… The EEOC continues to target two general types of employer policies: inflexible leave of absence policies and no-fault attendance policies. The agency’s focus highlights areas in which employers’ policies can expose them to significant legal risks under the ADA – and also provides valuable insight into ways your company can reduce these risks by proactively reviewing leave and attendance-related policies and procedures.” (EEOC Targets Employers’ Leave of Absence and Attendance Policies by McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC)

4. Family Medical Leave Act Policies:

“It is imperative that employers consider whether (and how) their FMLA policies and procedures expose them to claims that can be advanced by a group or class of employees. Strongly consider conducting a comprehensive audit of your entire FMLA administration to ensure your procedures do not violate the regulations and expose potential class claims.” (Life After Wal-Mart v. Dukes: Is the FMLA the New Breeding Ground for Class Actions? by Franczek Radelet P.C.)

5. Meal and Rest Period Policies:

“Pennsylvania’s Superior Court upheld a jury verdict of $187.6 million against retail giant, Walmart, Inc. in part for denying employee’s meal and rest periods as promised in their employee handbooks… The court ruled that Walmart’s handbook policies pertaining to meal and rest periods were ‘unilateral contracts’ with employees that Walmart breached.” (Walmart’s Employee Handbook Cost them $187.6 Million; What Could Your Employee Handbook Cost You? by Jaburg Wilk)


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