Whether professionally done or home-cooked, no employee handbook lasts forever. Employment laws change at both the state and federal level, rendering your current policies obsolete. Certain employee circumstances require special attention that you may not have given the first time around. Some handbooks may not have been effective in the first place. You should evaluate your handbook every so often, to see if it’s expired.

Make time, or have your HR department make the time, to sit down and organize a thorough evaluation of the policies and text within not just your handbook, but all your employment material. Whether you decide to do this in-house or hire an outside consultant, there are a few signs that tell you it’s time to make a change. 

At ConnectedHR, we work with businesses and organizations every day to create, update and implement their employee handbooks. In this article, we cover how to tell when it’s time to update your employee handbooks.

Finding Out the Hard Way

Maybe you already know you need to update your HR policy. Being faced with litigation, or an unfortunate situation that was ultimately preventable is a bitter pill to swallow. Hopefully, lessons have been learned, and everyone is prepared to move forward.

Your employee handbook and many of the documents you provide to employees are legally binding documents. If you haven’t taken the proper steps to determine whether this material is valid, and you’ll eventually find that out the hard way when it isn’t valid.

When Your Handbook Isn’t Legally Compliant

If you wrote your company’s employee handbook yourself, you probably did a great job. No one knows your company like you do, it’s vision, mission, and direction. You determine the culture and, especially if you’re a small business, you have a hand in every new hire that comes in.

However, it may not be legally compliant. This is a precursor to “finding out the hard way”- you need to be sure that all company policies align with both state and federal laws.

Some employment laws are more relevant to specific industries. For example, you may have employees working for minimum wage. There are minimum wage statutes that apply to tip workers, workers with disabilities, and more. It’s going to be different in other states, and you better be sure that each location of your company adheres to the local wage laws.

Remember that the employee handbook isn’t written for you, the owner. It’s written for the worst case scenarios. The leadership may understand Equal Opportunity Employment, but putting in the handbook places an impetus on all employees to understand it as well.

Changing Employment Laws

Laws change. Things like minimum wage are apparent; how you pay your employees factors into day-to-day decision making. Things like Ohio Administrative Code 4141-11-01, requiring employers to submit a quarterly contribution, wage, and payroll reports electronically, are less noticeable. It’s important to keep up on changing and new legislation and to include any changes at the state and federal level.

The political climate of today is tempestuous at best. Employment laws, worker’s rights, benefits/healthcare and more are becoming less about economic policy and more about political shifts in various institutions. This means things have been changing and will continue to change. Some industries are more politicized than others, but every company needs to keep up with the shifting landscape or risk being caught unprepared.

Think of your employee handbook as a living document.

You’ll need it to grow and adapt as your business does the same.