Updating Your Employee Handbook for 2017


We are happy to share with you another update to assist with your HR compliance. With many changes in legislation over the past year there are numerous areas in your Employee Handbook that should be reviewed. Here are a few that you should review today.

  1. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. Your policy probably already addresses discrimination against employees based on race, age, and national origin. Handbooks now also need to make it clear that discrimination against people based on gender stereotyping, gender identity, or gender expression are not permitted.
  2. Dress Code. Along the same lines, your dress code should be gender non-specific. References to specific male and female attire should be replace with non-specific gender references.
  3. Reporting Violations. In our December blog, we summarized the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) as well as the new OSHA Drug Testing Rule and Reporting Requirements. Based on this, and other recent legislation, check to be sure your handbook provisions don’t discourage employees from reporting potential legal violations to government agencies.
  4. Background Checks. Many cities, such as Philadelphia, now have what have been called “ban the box” laws. These laws prohibit employers from asking criminal background questions during the application and interview process (see our February 2016 blog for more details). Be sure to review your background check policy, as well as your job application, to ensure you are compliant with the laws where your business operates and recruits.
  5. Substance Abuse Policy. Even though many states have made marijuana legal, either for medical use or recreational use, it is still illegal on a federal level. To ensure you are compliant with federal, state and local laws, your policy can simply prohibit “illegal drugs.”
  6. Social Media. Today, most employees use some sort of social media both for personal use and business use. Issues regarding what your employees can post about your organization and customers online as well as how employee cyber behavior is monitored need to be clearly addressed in your policies.
  7. Employee Size. Some workplace laws apply to companies only after a business reaches a certain number of employees. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to employers with 50 employees in one location. It is important to be familiar with which laws apply to your organization based upon your company size, especially as your organization grows.

As always, The O’Connor Group is here for you. Please let us know if you need any assistance by contacting your consultant or reaching out to us at info@tocgrp.com.