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Top handbook revisions employers should know about

The nation’s economy is steadily improving. This means that the job market is expected to improve throughout the year, and employers are likely to continue to hire new employees as their needs increase. Because of this, employee handbooks will likely be updated and workers will need to understand how new policies affect them.

Employee handbooks are not exclusively germane to large corporations. Small businesses can benefit from having handbooks because they set out expectations for employees and provide guidelines for resolving problems within the workplace. Additionally, employers can have working knowledge of important state and federal regulations that can adversely affect their businesses if they are violated.

With that, the following will highlight the most common updates to handbooks this year.

Reasonable accommodation – As we alluded to earlier, more employees are expected to be hired this year, and this includes disabled workers. State and federal law require employers to provide reasonable accommodations in certain circumstances to allow workers to perform tasks if they are qualified to perform the essential functions of the job.

Retaliation – In accord with the #MeToo movement, employee handbooks are also being revised to address issues regarding retaliation; especially with regard to victims of workplace harassment or discrimination, as well as similarly situated witnesses. Since retaliation has been the most common claim brought to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) it can be expected that HR managers are paying attention to the language in these clauses and employers should as well.

Smoking and marijuana use – Indeed, smoking tobacco inside public buildings was abolished decades ago. But with the proliferation of e-cigarettes, employers must create clear policies so that electronic cigarettes may be treated like other forms of tobacco. Even with laws legalizing the use of marijuana under very limited circumstances, employers still have the right to restrict the use of it in the workplace. So handbooks are being revised to bar consumption of marijuana at work, and to set conditions on termination based on a positive drug test.

If you have questions about handbook revisions that may affect your business, an experienced employment law attorney can help.

The preceding is provided for informational purposes only.

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