Legal considerations when drafting an employee handbook

Legal considerations when drafting an employee handbook

| May 22, 2020 | Employment Law |

When creating an employee handbook in Pennsylvania, it is important to be familiar with both state and federal employment laws since state laws can provide additional protections for employees. For instance, though employees can typically be fired for any reason, states may have different laws regarding the circumstances under which termination is prohibited.

Since US law prohibits certain types of discrimination, such as that relating to disability, it is a good idea for employee handbooks to include an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statement and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. The Pennsylvania Equal Pay Law, which prohibits employers from paying lesser wages based on gender, should also be mentioned in any handbook. Handbooks should also provide the contact information of at least one person to whom employees can make complaints of perceived discrimination or harassment.

Handbooks should also define full-time versus part-time or probationary status and list any employee benefits, such as health care, vacation pay, sick leave and holidays (stating whether the holidays are paid or unpaid). The handbook should also describe the company dress code, the orientation process for new hires and the attendance and punctuality policy. Nonexempt employees must track the hours they work to determine if they are entitled to overtime pay, among other things, so the handbook should describe the timekeeping system and the process for reporting any missed logins or punches. If meal or rest breaks are provided, these should also be discussed.

These are only a few of many items that should be addressed in an employee handbook. It is critical that handbooks address any employment laws pertaining to leaves of absence under FMLA, the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as policies for reporting on-the-job injuries and filing a workers’ compensation claim. An employment law attorney can prepare an employee handbook that addresses federal and state laws, as well as other policies that are wise to include, such as whether smoking is allowed or if there are any employee parking restrictions.