Employee Handbooks and Personnel Policies

Why Have Them?

Personnel policies and practices help define the employment relationship and form a critical part of an employer’s employment infrastructure. The development and implementation of policies and procedures which not only are fair, clear and consistent but also which preserve the maximum amount of flexibility for the employer can serve as an employer’s best defense in employment-related disputes.

Further, an employer’s written policies and procedures – and how those policies and procedures are applied on a day-to-day basis – frequently plays a pivotal role in determining the outcome of such disputes. In addition, handbooks and manuals containing well-drafted policies and procedures enable employees to understand that which is expected of them as well as that which they can expect of their employer. In fact, a well-defined employment relationship can foster a loyal and productive workforce and can improve employee morale.

Why Have Your Employee Handbook or Personnel Policies Updated Regularly?

Employment laws and regulations – particularly in California – never remain static. Rather, businesses operating in California face a complex web of continually expanding and evolving federal, state and local employment laws as well as labor, privacy, and health and safety laws and regulations. These changes are constantly manifesting themselves through the legislative, regulatory and judicial (case or decisional law) processes.

In order to ensure compliance with California, federal and other applicable laws and regulation and address continual legal developments in the courts – which directly impact the rights and obligations of both employees and employers – it is imperative that employers regularly have their handbooks, policies and procedures reviewed and updated by legal counsel that specializes in employment law matters.

Why Is Employment Law Expertise Critically Important?

Given the wide-ranging, complex and constantly changing nature of employment laws applying to businesses operating in California, it is vital that California employers have employee handbooks and individual personnel policies – like all of their employment-related forms, employment agreements and letters – be prepared by practitioners who specialize in employment law matters and who are on the cutting edge of legislature, regulatory and judicial developments.

Similarly, a practitioner who is also an experienced litigator of employment law issues is in a better position (than, for example, an HR consultant) to draft policies and procedures in such way to ensure consistency and anticipate legal issues. Thus, while HR professional unquestionably play a vitally important role in developing, implementing and managing company policies and procedures, the actual drafting of such documents should be done by an attorney specializing in employment law and HR-related matters.

Miller Legal Group, P.C. regularly drafts, audits and updates employee handbooks and counsels clients about the development and implementation of new and/or revised employment-related documents, policies and procedures that reinforce an employer’s expectations, while at the same time, preserving the maximum amount of flexibility for an employer when making future employment-related decisions.

Examples of Policies Often Included in Employee Handbooks

Miller Legal Group, P.C. can help California employers better define the employment relationship by preparing or reviewing/revising policies and procedures. The following is a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of some of the basic policies employee handbooks typically should include:

  • Pre-hire background investigations
  • “At-will” statements/disclaimers
  • Preservation of employer’s right to revise, modify and establish new policies/procedures
  • Drug and alcohol use/testing
  • Equal employment opportunity
  • Disability accommodation
  • Non-discrimination, harassment and retaliation
  • Immigration law compliance
  • Drug and alcohol use/abuse
  • Unacceptable conduct and behavior and disciplinary consequences of same
  • Company property
  • Personal property (including establishing that such property is not entitled to privacy protections and is subject to search)
  • Confidential, proprietary and trade secret information
  • Non-solicitation of Company employees
  • Identification of Company work product
  • Conflicts of interest and moonlighting
  • Authorized and prohibited usage of Company telephonic, facsimile, internet, electronic communications and other technological systems & devices
  • Blogging and Social media
  • Workplace security and violence prevention
  • Open door policy
  • Internal complaint resolution procedure
  • Whistleblower policy and reporting procedure
  • Safety and health
  • Illness and injury prevention program
  • Use of personal cellular/mobile telephones in the workplace
  • Employee use/operation of personal vehicles or vehicles leased by or on behalf of the Company
  • Cell/mobile phone usage while operating vehicles
  • Employment of relatives
  • Non-fraternization
  • Attendance/punctuality
  • Personal appearance and attire
  • Employee classifications (including exempt v. non-exempt employees, introductory employees, etc.)
  • Introductory period of employment
  • Rest breaks and meal periods
  • Overtime (including makeup time)
  • Alternative workweeks
  • Time cards
  • Payroll, compensation and benefits (including disclaimers)
  • Job descriptions
  • Personal attire
  • Performance reviews/procedures
  • Salary reviews/procedures
  • Sick, vacation time or PTO (paid time off)
  • Leaves of absence (mandatory v. discretionary)
  • Pregnancy disability leave/transfer
  • Exit procedures
  • Acknowledgment of receipt of and obligations under employee handbook

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Contact a Los Angeles and Orange County Employee Handbook Attorney

For more information about what we do at Miller Legal Group, P.C. or to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced South Bay employment and HR law attorney, please contact us at our Southern California employment law firm by e-mail or at (310) 426-2650.