By: Walter J. Liszka, Esq.
Company policies are usually designed to set the standards an employer expects employees to follow with regard to their activities and employment related matters. Due to many changes in the law, it is suggested that the following steps be taken by every employer when dealing with their company policies:
- Assure that the actual policy or handbook has a very clear disclaimer that the employer, at its sole discretion, may change or modify policies at any time. This will hopefully reduce the risk that those policies are maybe seen as a binding contract.
- Obtain "buy-in" from employees. This can be accomplished through the use of committees consisting of employees or work groups to review policies and make revisions. As an aside, the author has had a number of instances where "employee committees" revised attendance policies that, in every instance, were more stringent than the employer's approach. At an absolute minimum, make certain that before any policy is revised, it is in compliance with Federal and State Law.
- Determine and be vigilant with regard to any future modifications of State and/or Federal Law. When State or Federal Law changes occur, it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that its policies are in agreement with that law.
- As soon as policies have been revised, communicate the revision of those policies to employees in written form. Prior to making a modification of the policy, consider the impact on employee morale as well as employees' finances, benefits, work life, and job expectations. For example, changes to a vacation policy may call for several months of precedent notice to allow employees to adjust their schedules and lifestyles. As well, changes in actual work schedules or site of work locations must have sufficient advance notice.
- Establish a procedure to obtain acknowledgements from the employees that they have received the information regarding changes or policy revisions. These acknowledgements should demonstrate that the employee has received updated policy information and understands that information. Keep this documentation, with copies of changed policies, in employee Personnel Files.
Company policies and procedures are always controlled by the employer. Their initial issuance and modification is part of any business day-to-day functioning/operation. If done correctly, the rights of both the employer and its employees are protected. To have your company policy reviewed, contact any Wessels Sherman attorney.