5 Little-Known or Sensitive Policies That Need to Be in Your Employee Handbook

5 Items for Employee Handbook

Constructing an effective employee handbook requires that you cover most workplace eventualities without making your document the size of a dictionary. A good handbook has to cover the essentials, such as workplace behaviors, sick leave, vacation time, and pay schedules. And while you have to be discerning about what you include, you cannot afford to overlook important but little-known or sensitive policies. As society continues to change, so must your employee policies. Fortunately, you can find expert help with these issues. America’s Back Office can help you with all your HR tasks, including your handbook. The following are five key items you should include in your company’s manual.

1. Employee Handbook Acknowledgement Clause

You can send your employees a handbook link, but you cannot make them read it. Some people will never go through it as thoroughly as they should. You can, however, make employees sign a statement saying that they have read the handbook. That way, no one can claim that they were unaware of the dress code or overtime rules. If you prefer, you can have an acknowledgment clause at the end of each section in the handbook. It’s a simple but important addition that can prevent many misunderstandings between management and the workers.

2. Employee Handbook Allergen Policy

Schools and restaurants are not the only businesses that need an allergen policy. Doctors have diagnosed many people with allergies to common substances such as nuts, shellfish, and perfumes. Some reactions to these items can be life-threatening for employees and clients alike. You may not want to ban nuts and colognes, but you might encourage your employees to be aware of their effect on others. In addition, you should create a procedure for dealing with allergic reactions and notify everyone of the location of EpiPens.

Reducing the number of allergens in your building will improve employee health and boost production. Make sure everyone is aware of your policy and enforce it. You can do your part by keeping peanuts out of your office and cutting down on the perfume or aftershave.

3. Employee Handbook Bathroom Policy

You need to have a clear bathroom policy that covers non-binary individuals. If someone identifies as female, can they use that bathroom? Do you have non-gender bathrooms available? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees should be able to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. If someone in your employ identifies as male, they should use the men’s restroom. If someone identifies as female, they should use the women’s restroom. The choice should be up to the employee.

OSHA further states that employers should not require legal or medical documents to prove their employees’ gender status. You cannot force these employees to use a segregated bathroom, either. However, providing a few non-gender-specific bathrooms is a good idea since any employee can use them.

If you do not follow federal guidelines in this area, you leave your company vulnerable to lawsuits. Ignoring this issue can only lead to misunderstandings and workplace conflict.

4. Employee Handbook Social Media Policy

Regulating employee social media use is tricky. You can ban its use while an employee is at work, although such a ban is almost impossible to enforce because of private smartphones. At best, you can prevent employees from accessing Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat on company-owned devices.

Personal social media use can be a real problem for your company if people are posting controversial statements or bashing your company while identifying as your employee, especially on public sites. You can encourage your workers to post a disclaimer stating that their views do not reflect those of your company. If your employee has a private account, your options are few. Also, you do not want to be in the business of monitoring your employees’ private lives, anyway. You should consult an expert on social media policy, like those you find at America’s Back Office, to help you protect your company while staying within the law and promoting employee adherence.

5. Employee Handbook Cell Phone Policy

A recent study showed that employees waste approximately eight hours a week on non-work activities, mostly by being on their cell phones. Cell phones are ubiquitous and hard to control, but you should not just surrender to them. Instead, strive to develop a workable policy. You may prevent employees from using a cell phone at their desks. If they need to answer a call or text, they can use their break time to do so. However, you may want to make exceptions for emergencies.

You cannot enforce cell phone policy unless management follows the same guidelines. So consider what personal use you feel is appropriate and what is not. Also, remember that someone will have to police cell phone users to ensure adherence to the policy, which can be time-consuming.

How America’s Back Office Can Help

America’s Back Office lets you outsource essential HR services that can inform your handbook policies. Our human resource administration services, which include manuals, communications, and record-keeping, can save you hours of preparation. Our expert team knows the legal ins and outs of the working world, allowing you to construct a meaningful handbook while remaining compliant with industry, state, and federal standards. Our decades of experience have taught us exactly what needs to go into a handbook, and just as importantly, what needs to stay out.

America’s Back Office provides many other services, including payroll processing, a legal defense fund, 401K retirement, and more. Your company will work more efficiently when you let us perform these vital duties.

Contact America’s Back Office for a professional consultation. We customize our services to fit the needs of your company. You’ll receive the latest advice on the best HR services and help ensure that your company is a fair and profitable place to work.