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Ask a Small Business Attorney: Do We Need an Employee Policy Manual/Handbook? 2017-09-11T04:49:37+00:00

The short answer is, yes. Employers most definitely have a need for employee policy manuals. Small business attorneys will tell you that even if you feel as though you are already familiar with the relevant laws, having these policies in place in a well-documented format is essential. While it may seem like a daunting task, such a manual can save your company from potential legal problems down the road. This is true even if your business employs only close friends or family members. Take a moment to review some reasons manuals or handbooks like these are necessary:

Policies are Established Before Problems Occur:

Almost any business or employment law attorney would agree that determining policy after the fact is not the ideal practice. Although it is very difficult to anticipate every issue that might arise with a business’s employees, there are many that are universal and can be addressed before hand. An employee policy manual will help avoid situations that require a defensive reaction and help create a more informed and proactive workplace.

Expectations are Set for Employees:

Employee policy manuals allow employees to understand what your business’s expectations related to workplace behavior are. For example, a clear written policy outlining the use of workplace property, such as computers, telephones, etc., will help to avoid misuse and the situation where an employee can say they didn’t know they couldn’t use it in the manner they did. This saves time, money, and headaches.

Inform Employees of their Rights:

The rights of your employees are extensive and a bit complex under California law. Even something as simple as a meal or rest break is spelled out under state law, and creating an employee policy manual that addresses these and other rules offers you and your employees the opportunity to reference the laws and rules in one document. More important sections will deal with equal employment opportunity laws that prohibit discrimination and unlawful harassment, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. These sections will assist employees of your small business in understanding the laws in general and the procedures to redress their complaints and concerns within your company, rather than filing a lawsuit or complaint with a state or federal agency.

Defense of Legal Claims:

If an employee or former employee does file a lawsuit or formal complaint with a state or federal agency, your small business attorney will have the opportunity to mount a more successful defense if a well­-crafted policy manual or handbook has been distributed to employees. Together with other evidence that the business owner has implemented and enforced policies consistent with state and federal laws, your attorney will be in a better position to obtain an early dismissal of such suit or complaints on your behalf, saving substantial time and money.

Many businesses have found it necessary to consult with an attorney after they have been threatened with legal action by employees and former employees, many times because no written employee policies were in place. Clear cut policies that adhere to existing law can help prevent grievances.

Business Attorneys Ready To Help

The business attorneys at Gehres Law Group would be happy to provide the legal framework necessary to craft the human resources guides your company needs. With a complex understanding of best practices in applying state and federal employment laws, we’re here to build the policy that will both serve to inform employees while simultaneously help in protecting your company from potential litigation. Contact us today to learn more.