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Why All Employers Should Have an Employee Handbook

Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by Ada K. Wong

alt textIn Washington, there is no law requiring employers to have an employee handbook, but for obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to have one—even a short one. A handbook allows employers to inform its employees about the rules enforced at the workplace in an efficient, uniform way. This allows your employees to know what is expected of them and what they can expect of you. It should also outline any disciplinary procedures, which should be applied uniformly. You will also be able to prove that all employees were aware of the rules in place if an employee decides to file a lawsuit against you. A well-written and implemented handbook can provide your company with valuable legal protections.

You should provide new and existing employees a copy of the handbook and have them date and sign a provision at the end acknowledging receipt and understanding of the handbook and its policies and guidelines. Make sure to keep a copy of all signatures for future reference.

All companies should have a handbook, especially for companies with 10 or more employees. For smaller companies, a comprehensive handbook may not be necessary, but it should still have some type of written document to communicate its general work policies to its employees. Even a one or two-page document may suffice. Smaller companies who have consistent problems (for instance, drug and alcohol abuse or tardiness) may want to provide a short policy focused on specific problems.

A key point to remember is that even if you have the best and most comprehensive handbook in place, if you do not apply it uniformly to all employees, you may still open yourself up to a lawsuit. Some provisions the handbook should include are: sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, meal and rest periods, time-off, sick leave, vacation, at-will employment, drug and alcohol, etc.

If you have an existing handbook or policies and procedures in place and want to make sure you are current with local, state and federal laws, or if you would like to consult with an attorney about drafting such, please feel free to give Ada K. Wong a call at (206) 805-1493 or email her at AWong@PivotalLawGroup.com for a free initial consultation.

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