Handbooks and Policies – Why They Matter - Tilson


Handbooks and Policies – Why They Matter

Regulations & Compliance, Strategy & Planning | June 2023

Written by: Madison Maloney, SHRM-CP, Human Resources Advisor

When was the last time you had an oil change for your car? Maybe that question just added something to your to-do list. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and forget about the things you depend on most that need your attention. Just like a car needs routine maintenance to run smoothly, so does an Employer’s Employee Handbook.

Results of a Well-Maintained Employee Handbook:

As an employer, you should review the handbook you currently have in place on a minimum of an annual basis. When you do so, you will notice that your policies are up to date, compliant, and inclusive. When problems do come up, you can hold employees accountable for the policies that are in effect.

For example, let’s consider the scenario of writing up an employee for being late. With a policy in place of being written up after three tardies, the employee should not find this write up as a surprise. Employees are made aware of and sign off on the employee handbook prior to their first day of work.

A well-maintained handbook provides peace of mind to management by offering a clear understanding of which behaviors should be praised and which should be corrected. Having documentation of previous incidents will also help support the decision of discipline, progressive disciple and even the decision to terminate employment, while minimizing the risk of a lawsuit.

Results of a Neglected Employee Handbook:

Often, small businesses may not realize they do not have a handbook in place until the time comes to reference a company policy. In those cases, the question that follows is, “Can we put something in place now?” While it is possible to implement a policy in response to a situation, it is considered best practice to be proactive and have policies in place ahead of time.

For example, let’s consider paying out accrued paid time off (PTO) at the time of termination. A common policy you will see is for a company to pay out unused PTO if the employee resigns with two weeks’ notice, but not pay it out if the employee is fired. If a disgruntled former employee is wanting to file a complaint about not receiving payment for unused PTO, without a policy to reference, you may be subject to paying this out. Of course, you should also consider state-mandated policies or laws, as well as any precedent set by paying out to former employees in similar situations.

In addition, handbooks and policies allow employees to understand expectations and the structure for how certain items are handled. This allows for the employee and the employer to have a more cohesive working environment. 

How Can Tilson Help You?

Tilson can assist you by maintaining a legally compliant handbook that encompasses federal labor laws and best practices. In addition, the handbook references the client addendum. The addendum is maintained by you, the client, to add specific policies based on how you wish to manage your company and culture. The resources provided on handbook policies are great for all companies and are utilized by Tilson when we review our Tilson handbook annually. We encourage you, the client, to review your addendum to ensure your policies are up to date, relative to the current environment and encompass any workplace culture items you may need. 

If Tilson can be of assistance in providing sample policies, templates or creating new policies for you, we are happy to discuss and provide a scope of service for this work.

What Should You Do Next?

  • Review our checklist for creating or reviewing your current handbook.
  • Review the 5 tips for creating or maintaining a handbook.
  • Assess your current work climate:
    • Are there any policies or issues that seem unclear?
    • What are the most problematic items you encounter?
    • What questions do staff members frequently ask?
    • Have you had any changes to your office setting (onsite vs remote); do you need to update or create a policy?

Based on the above, draft new policies and/or contact your HR Advisor for assistance. We can review the scope of work needed and provide you with the necessary support.

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