Promoting Workplace Productivity with a Sound Policy Handbook and Forms « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Promoting Workplace Productivity with a Sound Policy Handbook and Forms

Few conditions can kill a business faster than the absence of a written set of workable policies and related forms (e.g., employment application, exit interview checklist).  Without well-crafted, up-to-date written policy guidelines, administrators can lack the boundaries for consistent personnel management, potentially placing employees in a state of tension over arbitrary, unpredictable human resources decisions including sudden, unfair termination.

A current, thorough employee policy manual (handbook) and complementary written internal procedures and forms covering all major aspects of the employment relationship permit managers and rank-and-file workers alike to know where each one stands.  See also, Why Written Policy is Good Policy, Reduce the Chances of Workplace Lawsuit Disaster by Proper Forms, Policy Handbook

Businesses, within California or not, should implement and maintain written workplace policies and forms that cover the scope of the employment relationship.  For example:

Hiring:  A company should utilize employment applications that limit the information sought to factors relevant to the hiring decision.  The law changes regularly on what data is pertinent and what an employer may not ask for. For example, there are particular questions a business may ask when interviewing job candidates to determine a prospect’s qualifications for an open position and some it may not ask in order to avoid possible disability discrimination claims. Policy and forms that prevent HR staff from crossing that line is essential.  Another example is company procedure and forms for background checks on employment candidates. There are very specific federal and state regulations on such actions.

Basic Employment Terms:  It is very good to have a written employment agreement (contract) for each worker and supporting policy in place that establish for example the “at will” nature of the relationship, policies covering eligibility for benefits, training and competence, recordkeeping, discipline, termination and resignation.

•  Proper Use and Confidentiality of Trade Secret Information: Many businesses develop and maintain special, proprietary information that employees must access and utilize to perform their duties but should never misappropriate or disclose to unauthorized persons.   A sound confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement (an “NDA”) for each such worker – which is regularly updated and re-signed – is another important personnel management document.

•  Anti-Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policies: Employers are required by law to follow equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Thus, companies must issue clear guidelines on how all employees are to conduct themselves, as well as reporting, investigation and resolution procedures.

•  Work Hours and Compensation:  A business should provide its workers with all pertinent information in writing regarding work schedules and the compensation earned and received for such efforts, including but not limited to regular and overtime pay, meal breaks and rest periods, time keeping, pay rates, availability and rules for commissions, bonuses, and other benefits, paydays, federal and state tax deductions, performance reviews, and the bases for pay increases or decreases.

•  Standards of Conduct, Discipline:  Workers should know where they stand in writing on the whole range of expected or prohibited conduct including productivity, civility, dress code, security and many other topics as well as the rules for reporting, investigation and discipline.

•  Workplace Safety and Health:  California employers are required to provide health and safety guides to their employees.  Drug and alcohol prohibitions and testing policies fall into this category. Companies should include such information along with the workers compensation procedures, forms and brochures for on-the-job injuries in their written compilations.

•  Computers and Information Technology:  Clear, comprehensive written policies on the proper access and use of company computers, software, Internet portals, and electronically stored information as well as employee references to their jobs on social media are very important.

•  Leave Policies:  The larger a business’s payroll, the greater number of state and federal leave laws will apply.   Permitting absences for personal or family medical issues, pregnancy, jury duty, military service, and voting are among the possible requirements.  Again, an employer should maintain and provide policies, notices, forms and brochures that cover the specific leave laws that apply to that business.

Whether a company is newly formed or well-established, maintaining a current set of written policies, procedures and forms is equally important to each.  An experienced labor and employment attorney can help with implementation and updating.

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