Legal Compliance & Employee Handbooks
Employment Practices Group (EPG) regularly assists companies, businesses, and other employers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in establishing sound employment practices and achieving legal compliance.
Maintaining Sound Employment Practices & Legal Compliance
Employment practices are steps an organization takes to ensure that employee records, written policies, employer-employee relations, disciplinary measures, leaves of absence, and management practices are handled consistently, equitably, and in compliance with state and federal employment law. The goal of having effective employment practices is to have a more loyal, balanced, and productive workplace, while simultaneously reducing the chance that your organization will be a victim of expensive employment litigation. Sound employment practices commonly involve:
- An updated employee handbook of policies and procedures (see below)
- Complete and consistent employee personnel files
- Appropriate forms and documentation
- Non-competition, confidentiality, and non-disclosure forms
- Proper disciplinary documentation
- Current and accurate job descriptions
- Federal and state notices posted in appropriate locations
- Sound hiring and firing processes
- Regular performance evaluations
- Appropriate employee classifications as exempt and non-exempt
- A knowledgeable and trained workforce
If you have an employment practices concern, EPG will meet with your Human Resources department or management personnel to conduct an audit or otherwise assess your organization’s particular needs. In some cases, the assessment will be general, or it may be focused on a specific employment issue that has arisen.In either case, EPG will work collaboratively with your organization to define the issue or issues that need to be addressed and begin to implement a solution.Often the objectives of this employment practices assessment include:
- Review of the standards for a comprehensive personnel file.
- Review of your employee handbook to ensure that it reflects the organization’s current practices, contains all the required elements, and reflects the most current laws for your state.
- Evaluation and recommendations regarding federal and state postings, job descriptions, and appraisal procedures.
- Developing procedures for hiring and terminating employees, and training the managers on the process.
- Discussing how to handle employee complaints and when to conduct internal investigations. EPG can conduct these internal investigations for you, minimizing your litigation risk; please see our internal investigations page.
The Importance of Reviewing & Updating Employee Handbooks
Employee handbooks are useful tools for organizations seeking to inform employees and managers of the organization’s philosophy, expectations, policies, and procedures. However, carelessly written handbooks, or handbooks that are written and neither fully-implemented nor periodically reviewed, can have devastating consequences for employers. In fact, you are at legal risk if you do not have up-to-date policies in these areas, among others:
- Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment
- Electronic Communications
- Cell Phone Usage
- Social Media
- Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
- Employee Complaint Procedure
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Military Leave
- Nepotism and Fraternization
- Wage and Hour Issues
- Employee Classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Safe Harbor Policy under the FLSA
- Employee Benefit Programs
By having a handbook that reflects your current policies and is consistent with the most recent employment laws, you can be confident that you are following all of the necessary legal mandates, and fostering a fair and equitable work environment.You are also well-positioned to defend employment lawsuits in court. Thus, a review and examination of handbook policies on an annual basis is a sound employment practice. EPG provides these services for developing your employee handbook:
- Conducts a needs assessment of your organization and/or an employment practices audit, working with your Human Resource representatives and management team that you select.
- Provides you with a questionnaire to guide you through the decisions you need to make regarding the contents of a handbook that works for your business.
- Works with you during the development process to ensure that all the important topics are addressed.
- Evaluates and revises your current handbook, or drafts and memorializes your “unwritten policies,” to be legally compliant and to ensure that they accurately reflect your organization’s current practices and culture.
- Creates an employee handbook that fits for your organization, as well as minimizes your legal risk.
Seek Invaluable Employment Practices & Legal Compliance Assistance
Whether you have a general or specific employment practices concern, EPG can help you develop workable solutions to maintain legal compliance, foster a productive work environment, and minimize employment disputes. For more information about our services in this area, please contact Employment Practices Group.