The start of the new year is an excellent time to revisit and re-evaluate the policies contained in your Company’s Employee Handbook. Before doing so, employers must carefully consider its goals, tone, and content. The goals can be as simple as adding additional policies to address specific events of the past year, or, depending on how outdated the policies are, it can be a complete overhaul of the Handbook. Some specific policy updates to consider:
- Workplace Violence - While many employers may already have a workplace violence or safety policy, the recent rise in gun violence may precipitate employers to update such policies with added security measures or the inclusion of a violence preparedness plan. These measures help reassure employees that the Company is concerned about their well-being and that matters of workplace violence are taken seriously.
- Disability Accommodation – ADA disability accommodation policies are pretty standard for Handbooks. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has identified the ADA Amendments Act, which considerably broadened the scope of the ADA and what is considered to be a disability, to be of particular focus in its Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan. This stated focus by the EEOC provides a strong reason for employers to revisit their ADA policy to ensure that it is complying with all legal requirements. Social Media –
- Social media policies continue to be a hot-button issue for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) and, specifically, whether such policies impede protected concerted activity by employees. While it has become increasingly difficult to limit what employees may say about an employer on social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs LinkedIn, etc…), these policies should be carefully tailored to protect the Company from disparagement, to the extent possible, and from the disclosure of any confidential information or trade secrets.