When was the last time you updated your employee handbook and/or personnel policies. It is not uncommon for a handbook to reference policies or information that may change as needs arise. For instance, most handbooks will refer to benefits for full-time and part-time employees, but will not actually itemize the benefits in the handbook, instead referring to a separate schedule that may change. This allows the handbook to act as a stable source of information without having to alter it with every change in the practice. Here is are a few items to consider as you update your 2014 employee handbook or personnel policies.
General Compliance Statement
Do you have general compliance statement that speaks to the practice’s commitment to adhere to local, state and federal laws. If not, consider adding one. This, of course, includes HIPAA compliance.
All states recognize at-will employment but some states place limitations on it. Every practice’s handbook should have language about the at-will nature of employment. At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences. Check your state Department of Labor website for specific information.
What is Full-time Employment?
Did you change your definition of what “full-time” employment means? The Affordable Care Act defines full-time as 30 hours per week.
Lactation & Other Employee Breaks
Did you include or refer to lactation breaks for nursing mothers? According to the Department of Labor (DOL):
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, known as the “Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” See 29 U.S.C. 207(r). The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.
Do you adhere to your state’s requirement for employee breaks? http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm
Paid Time Off (PTO) Use
Have you updated your information on how PTO may be used? Some states require that PTO be available for parent-teacher conferences. Check your state Department of Labor for more information. http://www.dol.gov/whd/contacts/state_of.htm
Drug & Alcohol Policy
If you have a drug and alcohol policy, does it need updated to reflect medical marijuana laws? Do you reserve the right to have any employee tested for drugs if their behavior warrants it? Check your state Department of Labor for more information.
Social Media Policy
Do you have a social media policy that guides not only personal use of social media in the workplace, but also guides who may speak on behalf of the practice on social media.