When is the last time you updated your company’s employee handbook?
The other day I was having a conversation with the person who mentored me and helped me to start California Employer’s Services. I was surprised when I heard him use the term “strangled” in reference to what the new labor laws and the new Cal-OSHA enforcement procedures are doing to employers. Between Cal-OSHA and the New Labor Laws that have passed, the laws are now extremely difficult for employers to deal with.
In California today, if you are an employer you need to have an HR Consultant as well as a good Risk Management Company to help you get and stay in compliance because of all the new laws and regulations. Even if you updated your employee handbook at the first of the year it is time for another update, or maybe even a new one. Due to the new laws and the legal trends that have come into play as a result of the new laws California Employers Services effective this month has disposed of our old employee handbook and created a brand new one.
Below is a list of policies that now should be covered, this list is not an all inclusive list but it will give you an idea of some of the changes.
- The California Paid Sick Leave Law should now be included in your employee. This is true even if you use Paid Time Off to meet the California Paid Sick Leave Policy. The for the inclusion of this policy is very simply this there were four different notification that were supposed to be either handed out or made visible to employees concerning the New California Paid Sick Leave Law. Most employers and I mean most employers failed in this regards so if you do not have this policy in your employee handbook then you have still failed and this could come back to bite you in either a labor board hearing or an employee lawsuit.
- One of our new policies says that employees may not use their phones to either record a work conversation or take pictures of company documents.
- Effective April 1st 2016 employers must not only have the new sexual harassment policy but they must pass that policy out to all employees and have the employee sign a separate acknowledgement and receipt for that policy as well. A word of caution here some HR Consulting Firms our selling this new policy for about a $100.00. I have no problem with that but here is where you have to be careful. If you buy that policy and have the employee sign that current sexual harassment policy but don’t update your employee handbook to match you will still be out of compliance and the companies that are selling this policy like this are not letting anyone know of this backdoor issue.
- Does your employee manual have verbiage that destroys your “At-Will Status”? Verbiage such as up and including will destroy your “At-Will Status” the reason for this is simply up to and including is a steps contract that is implied, any implied steps contract goes against the heart and soul of your “At-Will Status”. At-will gives you the right to fire an employee right then and there for no cause other than you are going in a different direction.
- If you are using your Paid Time Off Policy to meet the California Paid Sick Leave requirements the question you need to ask yourself is does it match the new Paid Sick Leave requirements? This would include the accrual rate, along with when you can begin to use the Paid Time Off, all of that must meet the new Paid Sick Leave law or you are not in compliance.
- Does your employee handbook clearly establish that employees are to have no expectation of privacy in the workplace?
- Does your company manual have the new Cal-OSHA workplace violence policy that was recently implemented?
- Does your employee handbook mention your Safety Program
- Does your company manual mention or point your employees to your Heat Illness and Injury Prevention Program if you have employees that work in temperatures of 90 degrees or more?
- Does your company handbook properly address both rest and meal periods, along with verbiage that explains the availability of a second meal period should the employee work enough hours to qualify.
There are a host of other issues that employers need to take a good long look at, such as drug testing for pre-employment and random. Remember, the attorneys are now all over these new laws and there are late night commercials telling employees to give them a call and they will help them to sue their employer. In the month of April we had three employee call us up asking us to help them sue their employer. We are not here for the employee so we did not help them. The point is we are living in a time when employees may know more about the California Labor Laws then the employers they work for. That is why having a new employee manual that will put you in a dependable position is of the utmost importance.
Should you have any questions we are here to help you, we love questions. If you would like us to review your current employee handbook at no charge to you we would be happy to do that as well. Yes we are business to make a living and we cannot do that without people joining our membership but we are here to get employers in compliance and help them to protect their rights as employers by being in compliance.
Today employers need all the help they can get, for the laws in California have not been kind to employers.