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Hiring and retaining employees is an important function of many businesses and is often essential to their success. From the perspective of the employer, employees, while essential, are also a source of legal liability. This liability can arise from third parties as a result of the conduct of an employee that caused injury or loss, or even from the employees themselves if they allege a violation of state or federal employment law.
A well-written employee handbook is an excellent way to limit an employer’s potential legal liability. Companies who are developing an employee handbook can benefit by having a business litigation lawyer work with them in its development to ensure that all employment and other laws are being met.
What Topics Should Be Addressed by an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook should clearly address workplace policies. Some of the issues that should be covered by the handbook include:
- Alcohol and substance policies
- Anti-harassment policies
- Attendance requirements
- Code of conduct
- Dress code
- Email and other computer policies
- Employee benefits
- Employee safety
- Grievance policies
- Overtime policies
How Does a Handbook Limit Legal Liability?
By clearly communicating your workplace policies and expectations, you encourage employees to refrain from behavior that might result in a lawsuit. The protections offered by an employee handbook go far beyond suggesting good behavior. For example, an employer that is being sued for harassment may be able to argue that it had a comprehensive harassment policy and appropriately responded to any allegations of legally prohibited conduct. In addition, by addressing how employees who violate workplace policies are disciplined, an employer can prevent lawsuits that allege that an employee was unfairly treated if the employer can establish that it followed its policies and has applied them consistently.
Does an Employer Need the Assistance of a Business Lawyer to Create an Effective Employee Handbook?
Many employers, especially those just starting out, might be hesitant to spend the money to hire a business attorney to assist with the creation of an employee handbook. The Internet has made it relatively easy to download standard document templates and using them may seem like the most cost-effective solution. In reality, doing so may result in significant and unnecessary legal liability, perhaps well into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in the event of a lawsuit.
By engaging an experienced business attorney well-versed in employment law to assist in creating an employee handbook unique to your business and its needs, you can rest assured that you have addressed the issues that you should in order to minimize your liability. In addition, should an incident occur or an issue arise, you will already have formed a relationship with an attorney familiar with your business and its policies.
Call a Law Firm for Assistance
Employers should always consult with a business lawyer Melbourne, FL offers regarding their employment policies to ensure that they are limiting their legal liability as much as possible. To schedule a consultation with a skilled business litigation attorney, call a law office today.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood for their insight into business law and the importance of employee handbooks.