Your employee handbook is an important document that helps establish consistent rules and expectations for all of your employees. A well-written employee handbook is both clear and comprehensive. It doesn’t leave important questions or concerns to interpretation and provides a number of supplementary functions, including:
- Boosting administrative efficiency
- Reducing operating costs
- Limiting potential liability and legal costs
Before our Memphis construction attorneys discuss five essential policies for your employee handbook, we must first emphasize the importance of enforcing a policy that requires your employees to familiarize themselves with your employee handbook. This can be done by requiring them to provide a signature indicating that they not only read the handbook but also understand all policies. You must provide your employees with an employee handbook printed in the language needed for them to fully understand the policies contained within. If you fail to do so, and an employee attempts to sue you after requesting a translated manuscript, there’s a possibility that they could prevail, even if the agreement protected you against such a lawsuit.
Is your employee handbook protecting your business? Review the five policies below to see how your employee handbook stacks up, and consult a Memphis construction attorney for assistance with drafting a new employee handbook designed to protect your business against a broad range of potential issues.
1. No Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation
According to Construction Business Owner, harassment verdicts generally cost employers millions of dollars. As a result, it’s vital that all employers have a written policy that bans any instances of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Your handbook should establish strict rules pertaining to protected classifcations like race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, and disability. It should also include any necessary protections established by state or local laws as well as clear examples of prohibited conduct, violation penalties, information on reporting procedures, and more. When a Memphis contractor lawyer drafts your employee handbook, all of these considerations will be accounted for.
2. At-Will Statements
If you want your employee handbook to be legally binding, you’ll have to make certain that all policies are paired with the necessary legal disclaimers. These disclaimers should be placed in plain sight. Some of the most important disclaimers include those noting that a handbook is not the same as a contract and that employment is “at-will.” At-will statements give employers the right to terminate an employee at any time regardless of the reason. It also gives the employee the right to leave a job whenever they choose.
3. Rules of Conduct
The project site is brimming with potential hazards. As a contractor, you can’t allow unprofessional conduct to transpire under your watch. Your rules of conduct should strictly state that an employee can be terminated immediately if they are involved in excessive absenteeism or tardiness, pose a security threat or conflict of interest, damage property, commit (or threaten to commit) an act of violence against another employee, or engage in fraud or present false statements. Other important rules of conduct involve those pertaining to harassment, insubordination, misuse of property, sleeping or inattention, solicitation or distribution, substance abuse, theft, unlawful activity, unsafe work practices, and more. Poor or lackluster performance may also be grounds for termination, although it is not technically the same as misconduct.
4. Drugs and Alcohol
Nothing undermines a project faster than a handful of inebriated employees entering the project site without their faculties about them. Curtailing substance abuse on the project sites requires the contractor to take a hard stance against drugs and alcohol. This may require the contractor to employ a zero tolerance policy. Ideally, your policy will be written with clear language that prevents any confusion. Avoid phrases like “under the influence” or “impaired.” Instead, ban employees from having even trace amounts of drugs or alcohol “in their system.” If you’re forced to go to court, clear language can reduce the legal burden on your business.
Needless to say, worker safety is essential to a successful project. When employees go down, costs go up. A clearly detailed safety policy can help prevent dangerous situations from materializing in the first place. Your policy should include a list of safety rules and procedures as well as reference to your safety program’s committee, recordkeeping requirements, and training procedures. There should also be some mention of your safety coordinator, too.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.