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Published on 1/28/2017 12:00:00 AM

7 Trending HR Policies for Today’s Workplace

Here are 7 company policies for employees to consider adding to your staff handbook to reflect today's changing workplaces.

Gone are the days when an employee manual only covered a handful
of key issues, like breaks, dress code, time-off requests and discipline.
Today’s workplaces are changing, and employee manuals need to reflect that. Addressing the latest workplace trends can help set clear boundaries, prevent misunderstandings and ultimately protect your business.

“Besides communicating necessary details, written policies help promote consistency,” says Shanna Wall, Esq., Compliance Attorney for ComplyRight™.
“This is especially important so you can’t be accused of playing favorites or treating employees unfairly.”

Depending on your business, you may need to include any number of these
seven emerging company policies for employees in your employee manual.
Here are some questions to ask yourself — and some tips on what the policy should include:

Updated Confidentiality Policy
Due to closer scrutiny by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), you can no longer issue a broad policy that requires employees to keep all information confidential. Rather, you must be specific — and careful not to include items the NLRB doesn’t deem private, such as wages and working conditions.
Questions:
• What in your business needs to remain confidential?
• What parameters do you want to set?
• What are the consequences for violating this policy?
Policy Pointers:
• Give specific examples of confidential material
• List employee obligations (e.g. not discussing confidential info
  over unsecured networks)
• Include any federal or state trade-secret laws that may apply
Remote Workers Policy
Many companies allow employees to work remotely from home or
some other location outside the main office. However, not all jobs and employees are well-suited for remote work, so you need to clarify
the company’s position.
Questions:
• Who is eligible for remote work?
• Do you have any limitations on remote work?
• How will you monitor your remote workers?
Policy Pointers:
• Comply with any applicable state laws
• Have a specific time and pay policy for remote workers
• Reserve your right to end the ability to work remotely
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy
As more and more employees use their own devices for business, such
as smartphones, laptops and tablets, you need to consider privacy and security matters. There’s also the concern of a device being lost or stolen.
Questions:
• What personal devices will you allow employees to use?
• How will you monitor personal devices?
• What limitations or security features will you require?
Policy Pointers:
• Comply with any applicable privacy laws
• Establish procedure for end of employment
• Include risks and liabilities
Social Media Policy
Although a social medial policy can help protect your company’s reputation online and beyond, you need to draft it to withstand
the NLRB’s scrutiny.
Questions:
• Do you need a policy for both business and personal use?
• What guidelines need to be established?
• What about the use of social media while at work?
Policy Pointers:
• Consider NLRB rules
• List specific confidential information that can’t be shared
• Explain the disciplinary measures for policy violations
Severe Weather Policy
Almost every U.S. location can be affected by some type of severe weather or natural disaster, including hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes and fires. It’s smart to have a policy so employees know what to expect in case of an emergency.
Questions:
• What type of weather emergencies is your company susceptible to?
• What procedures do you want in place in case of severe weather?
• How will you communicate with employees in an emergency?
Policy Pointers:
• Clearly explain the proper steps for employees to follow
• Specify any weather hotline, or text messaging or emailing system
• Make the policy as broad or specific as necessary
Weapons Policy (or Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence)
Under OSHA, employers have an obligation to protect employees from workplace violence, which may include physical violence (punching, kicking, hitting, biting and slapping), harassment, intimidation and even disruption. You can address weapons and violence separately, or combine them in one policy.
Questions:
• What items will you consider weapons?
• What conduct do you want to prohibit?
• What disciplinary measures do you want in place?
Policy Pointers:
• Comply with state and local laws (including posting requirements,
  privacy laws and concealed carry)
• List specific examples of prohibited violent conduct
• Explain responsibilities under your workplace violence-prevention plan
Drug and Alcohol Policy
This is a hot topic due to expanding laws legalizing marijuana use for medical and/or recreational purposes. Although marijuana is still against federal law (so you can prohibit it and test for it), you need to be mindful of state laws that may allow more employee rights.
Questions:
• What substances do you want to prohibit?
• What testing procedures do you want in place?
• What are your disciplinary measures for policy violations?
Policy Pointers:
• Comply with federal, state and local laws
• Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
• Explain search and testing procedures

Additional Insight and Direction
from ComplyRight Experts

The specifics with these trending policies will vary, depending on your business needs, but these guidelines will get you started. More advice: “When drafting a workplace policy, it’s important to be concise, to use common, everyday language and to avoid absolutes such as always, never, must or shall,” says Wall.

For additional guidance on creating an effective employee manual, including six essential policies and extra pointers on these seven trending work policies, check out the recent webinar by ComplyRight™. Or, for an affordable handbook solution that complies with federal and state laws, consider Handbook Manager software from HRdirect.

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Ashley Kaplan, Esq.
Hosted by Ashley Kaplan, Esq.,
Sr. Employment Law Attorney, ComplyRight, Inc.
We have a new president and Republican administration in the White House, which means big changes for employers in the coming years. In fact, if history proves correct, you can expect a sharp drop, or even rollback, of federal employment laws and regulations.
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