Page 28 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - October 2018
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Employee Handbooks

               Profitable Tools for Small Businesses

                                                   by Phillip M. Perry

         Employee handbooks can help boost profits by lending efficiency to workplace
         operations. When benefits and responsibilities are clearly defined, supervisors
         are freed from the time-consuming task of responding to numerous procedural
         questions. Even so, handbook provisions must comply with federal, state and local
         laws while avoiding the creation of inadvertent contracts of employment.

                 hat commonly neglected busi-
                 ness tool can help your work-
         Wplace run more smoothly,
         orient  new  employees  quickly, and re-
         duce your risk of costly legal battles? If
         you guessed “the employee handbook,”
         you’re right. Too often given short shrift,
         this vital document can play a vital role
         by communicating workplace policies
         and employee responsibilities. The re-
         sult can be a more productive organiza-
         tion and a more profitable business.
           “Employee handbooks are extremely
         important for businesses  of all sizes,”
         says James W. Potts, J.D.,  Chief Ex-
         ecutive  Officer  of  the  Pasadena,  Ca.,-
         based human resources consulting firm                                                                  illustration © iStockphoto
         of Potts and Associates (pottsandasso-  “They can help everyone
         work more efficiently.”
           The  same  handbooks  that  help  vet-  written handbook: reduced legal risk.   many handbooks. For a rundown, see
         eran  workers  understand  your  busi-  Suppose, for example, one of your cus-  the sidebar, “What Goes in the Em-
         ness policies can be especially valuable   tomers  is  harmed  by  an  employee  im-  ployee Handbook?”
         for  recruits.  “Giving  your  handbook  to   paired by alcohol or drugs. Having a   Here are some remarks about the
         selected  applicants  can  be  beneficial  in   record  of  an  anti-drug  policy  can  help   more sensitive topics:
         landing the best employees,” says Rich-  mitigate liability. “When you get sued,   • Email.  Even  if  allowed  to  use  per-
         ard Avdoian, an employee development   the first question an attorney will ask   sonal devices for business purposes, em-
         consultant  in  Metropolitan  St. Louis.   is ‘did you have a policy covering this?’”   ployees have no right to privacy regard-
         ( “Many   says Bob Gregg, co-chair of the employ-  ing any business emails that go through
         times the ideal candidate has multiple   ment practice law group at Boardman   those  devices,  or  any  personal  emails
         offers,  and  your  handbook  can  tip  the   and Clark LLC, Madison, WI (boardma-  that go through the business system.
         balance in your favor by communicating                   “Your policy should state that your
         the benefits of joining your team.”  At smaller businesses, where supervi-  business owns all emails that goes over
           The employee handbook, along with   sors have limited time to communicate   your business system, even personal
         the job description, can set the frame-  all the vital information employees need,   ones,” says Gregg. “Employees should
         work for inducting new people into your   handbooks can help fill the gap. At the   not use the system for anything they do
         business, adds Avdoian. “It communi-  same  time,  they  communicate  a  valu-  not want company management to see.
         cates the company mission, states expec-  able business image. “Like a website, an   They should also be informed that even
         tations and outlines benefits. And it sets   employee handbook is an expected part   if they hit the delete key the emails will
         the tone for a cooperative ‘we’ culture.”   of today’s business operation,” says Av-  be retained on the company hard drive
           Once aboard, the new employee should   doian. “It tells everyone you are serious   or in the cloud.”
         receive a handbook as part of a thought-  about your organization.”     • Overtime.  The  2004 revisions  to
         ful orientation. “The new employee   Cover these topics               the Fair Labor Standards Act created
         should be given a tour of departments   The  employee handbook is not a   a  “safe harbor”  from  liability for  un-
         and be introduced to their managers,”   “one size fits all” affair. Every organi-  paid  overtime when employers have
         says Avdoian. “This communicates idea   zation has its own requirements, and   adequate policies  granting employees
         that each individual is part of a larger   only your attorney can tell you what   the opportunity to request wage correc-
         organization and is equally important   you should include (and omit) to be in   tions. “If you do not have such a policy
         in the success of the company.”    compliance  with  the  law.  Neverthe-  employees can sue you for unpaid over-
           There’s  one  more  benefit  of  a  well-  less, there are some topics common to     continued on page 30

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