Why Investigators Need Updated Employee Policy Manuals
Employee policy manuals are generally an HR responsibility. While that is true, they are also very important tools for using in employee investigations.
Having rules in writing in a clearly-written manual outlines expectations for employee behaviors and is a guideline for what is allowed and not allowed when there is an issue that needs to be investigated.
Do your internal policies need a refresh?
This free template contains templates and ideas for writing common internal policy and procedure documents, including harassment, health and safety, drug use, and more.
Why Write an Employee Policy Manual?
It’s an important tool that may protect your company from legal issues due to hiring practices, discriminatory practices, workplace investigations gone wrong, termination practices, and much more! Additionally, laws change and your employee handbook needs to reflect these changes, so it is time to update it.
If your company doesn’t have an employee policy manual, now is the time to create one. Even small companies need one.
Most importantly, give an updated copy to all employees. Make sure they read and understand it and have them sign a paper saying they received it to reduce your risk of wrongful termination lawsuits.
What to Include In an Employee Policy Manual
All employee policy manuals should include:
- An Equal Employment Opportunity Policy stating that your company complies with all local, state, federal, and other employment laws to protect you from discrimination issues.
- An Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy stating your company will not tolerate sexual and any other types of harassment. Include the process for an employee to report complaints of harassment and misconduct and a clause that states that there will be no retaliation against employees for a complaint unless it is without merit and filed maliciously. Be sure to include that any online or other electronic harassment is not allowed including being done using social media, calls, emails, etc.
- An E-mail, Social Media and Technology Policy outlining your company’s stance on electronic communication. Employees should also be told that company-supplied technology such as laptops and cell phones could be monitored. This policy should also include what is and what is not allowed when using company-owned electronics, i.e., surfing the internet, online shopping, etc.
- A Disclaimer that says “This handbook is not a contract and is subject to change and modification at any time.”
- A Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy for both work hours and any use outside of the workplace that may affect your company. Include that your company prohibits the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace and at company events, and state that you have the right to stop anyone who is impaired from entering the workplace. This is especially important if your business is in an area with legal marijuana usage.
- A Workplace Violence Prevention Policy that states your company does not tolerate violence or threats of violence under any circumstances! Clearly identify what is considered inappropriate behavior in the workplace and at company events. Be aware of state laws, as some states allow employers to seek orders of protection against individuals who have been violent towards company employees to prohibit further violence or threats of violence.
- Disciplinary Procedures that will protect your company from claims of discrimination by employees, but will not limit your ability to apply the appropriate discipline when necessary. Always reserve the right to administer any level of discipline when an employee’s conduct merits it. This is especially important for investigators in the event there is a claim of discrimination due to disciplinary incidents.
- A Termination Policy clearly stating what behaviors are considered grounds for termination. This can include drugs, alcohol, behavioral issues, and more.
Now is the time to update your handbook or to make sure your HR department writes one. Starting the new year off with an updated policy handbook will surely help with any investigations in the future.