Making sure your worker handbooks don’t go astray of human resources policies and compliance has been tough as laws and regulations changed quickly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic — although employee work management software is now a focal point. Recent federal court rulings have forced many companies to change their policies regarding health care, religious expression, military service, and even onsite firearms.
You can get sued for missing policies or having poorly worded ones. You’ve got to keep your handbook updated, especially when your bosses and the company’s structure expect it. You should make changes to your employee handbook to start the new year off right in 2023, from employee leave to diversity-equity-inclusion (DEI) areas — and even social media rules.
In fact, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just updated its “Know Your Rights” poster recently. This updated poster summarizes federal anti-discrimination laws and explains how employees and applicants can file a complaint.
As business policies, laws and regulations change rapidly in a post-pandemic world, your handbook shouldn’t go stale. Take advantage of the following guidance to update your handbook for any U.S. state you operate in.
Keep Your Mindset Parallel to Employee Work Management Software
Before we get into this deeper guidance, be sure to implement the following mindset when updating your company’s employee handbook:
- Make sure your company and department actually follow the policies that you state.
- Mention that the handbook isn’t a contract of employment and does not change at-will employment.
- Make your handbook simple — or at the very least, don’t make it overly complicated.
- You need to update your handbook if policies are outdated or no longer followed.
- Make sure policies of attendance, behavior, and discipline are extremely clear and transparent.
- You can change policies in your handbook at any time, with or without notice.
- Always keep the company’s discretion and flexibility in play, especially as you pick the right employee work management software or fine-tune the solution you are already working with.
Work Policies Combining Hybrid and Remote work
Employee handbooks should include hybrid or remote work policies in 2023 if they don’t already. But if employees have been working remotely or in a hybrid fashion for a while, there’s no need for new policies.
Having these policies is important for protecting the company from unnecessary risks, improving employee performance, and getting back all the equipment when employees leave. These things should be covered in a telecommuting policy.
- An employee’s technology and equipment.
- Returning equipment when an employee leaves.
- The work expectation if the headquarters or a site/location is closed due to bad weather.
- Meetings, including technology and dress code.
- Scheduling and working hours.
- Timeliness and availability of employees.
- Cybersecurity safety rules.
Wellness, Mental Health, & Employee Work Management Software
Many employers need to support employee wellness and mental health in 2023 to retain staff. This trend was accelerated by the pandemic. However, providing solid health insurance isn’t enough to support employee wellness in 2023. An employer should look at employee benefits and make employee wellness a priority. How much vacation time do you give employees? Is mental health care more accessible with their health insurance?
Employer Assistance Programs and mental health days are helping many companies and organizations improve mental health care access. You might also want to encourage employees to stay home when they are sick. It’s also possible to expand Family and Medical Leave Act policies to include language about mental health conditions depending on your circumstance and workers.
Overall, employers should consider creating a wellness policy in their 2023 employee manual. All the physical and mental health initiatives and benefits could be included in it. Employers need to aim toward practicing all of these changes in the workplace, and they can communicate it through convenient, secure, safe, and reliable portals with the right employee work management software.
Just know that when it comes to benefits, don’t add mental health days to handbooks if you’re not truly ready for offering them. Proceed cautiously yet positively.
Benefits and Policies for Working Parents
Working-parent expectations and new parental leave programs should be addressed in employee handbooks. There have been a lot of parental-leave policies popping up all across the United States. We actually have 10 states with paid parental leave, and more are working on their own versions. Companies in these 10 states having employees who work remotely must have updated and compliant paid family leave policies.
As part of their employer brand, employers should also seriously consider offering more flexibility for working parents. Flexibility at work has increased drastically after the pandemic. Today, it’s a necessity for parents not a perk. It gives them a leg-up on raising and managing their kids in relation to managing their careers.
Work-from-home parents want flexibility, especially in today’s tight labor market. If employers don’t offer it, they may lose skilled labor or have trouble attracting new talent. A quality solution for employee work management software can help communicate your employer brand when it comes to this valuable flexibility.
Changes in Pay and Hours
Stay up to date on all wage and hour employment law changes by working with human resources experts. Pay equity and pay transparency laws may be changing in your state. Seven U.S. states now have pay transparency laws. Even in states where pay transparency is not mandatory, many employers across various industries are embracing it. It might be a good idea for employers to make sure their policies for hiring or posting jobs reflect compliance with these laws, although it’s a very personal decision.
Also, the language in an employer’s exempt and non-exempt employee policies may change when state minimum-wage laws change.
Finally, employers should make sure their 2023 employee handbook adheres to wage and hour policies because audits by the U.S. Department of Labor are more aggressive these days. It’s important for employers to prevent these costly audits, as they can also possibly expose organizations to other audits, legal action, or other problems in general. Employee work management software helps keep employers on track.
Don’t Forget These Items
Above all, don’t forget paid-leave eligibility, expense reimbursement, and protected characteristics. “An outdated handbook can be a liability, particularly for multi-state employers with a widely-dispersed workforce,” states an employer 2023 advice column recently published in the National Law Review. “These employers in particular must be attune to the myriad of different employment laws and must be aware of new developments in any states where any employee is located. These complicated compliance requirements may seem tedious or burdensome, especially in an environment where employers are already struggling with recruiting and hiring. But failure to do so can be costly.”
Also, don’t forget to make updates to year-end payroll guidance.
Work environment trends, such as remote working, change every year, which brings new compliance requirements. Human resources departments should update their employee handbooks every year. It ensures compliance with industry standards and federal and state laws. As a result, the company is less exposed to risk. The employee handbook carries the company’s mission statement and helps develop a strong company culture — and employee work management software can help.
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