Employee Handbooks Need Annual Check-Ups Too

By: Rachel D. Gebaide

Physicians encourage their patients to have annual physicals for preventive care. Shouldn’t senior living facilities do the same with their Employee Handbooks? Senior living facilities often have a 24/7 work force and require different employment policies and procedures than a traditional office environment. An untreated out-of-date handbook can lead to severe problems down the road. Patients who avoid preventive care may find themselves in the Emergency Department. Employers without a proper handbook may find themselves in the courthouse.

As we approach the final quarter of the year, now is the time to give your Employee Handbook a check-up. Employee Handbooks are an important way of communicating information to employees about the employment relationship. A well-drafted handbook will:

• Answer employees’ frequently asked questions
• Explain the rules of the workplace
• Comply with federal and state laws

What should employers include in their Employee Handbooks? Some handbooks are more comprehensive than others, but all handbooks should include the employer’s expectations on basic topics including, without limitation, confidentiality and HIPAA; equal opportunity and sexual harassment prevention policies; work schedules and break times; vacation, sick time, and other leave policies; standards of conduct; dress code; electronic communications policies; social media policies; and employee benefits.

In addition to the annual “check-up” for a facility’s Employee Handbook, employers should periodically audit their personnel files to make sure that the files contain each employee’s signed acknowledgment that he or she received and read the Employee Handbook. A new acknowledgment should be obtained from each employee every time a new version of the handbook is issued but be sure to keep the acknowledgments that pertain to prior versions too.

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