Did You Know?
A recent small business compliance survey by ComplyRight reports that:
84% of participants have an employee handbook or formal written policies
85% require employees to acknowledge receipt of these policies
56% don’t have a formal weapons policy in the workplace
47% don’t have a social media policy
Gone are the days when an employee manual only covered a handful of key issues, such as breaks, dress code, time off requests and employee discipline.
Today’s workplaces are changing, and employee manuals need to reflect the shifts that are occurring. Addressing the latest workplace trends can help set clear boundaries, prevent misunderstandings and ultimately protect your business.
“In addition to communicating necessary details, written policies help promote consistency,” says Shanna Wall, Esq., Compliance Attorney for ComplyRight.
“This becomes 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 7 emerging company policies for employees in your employee manual.
Included are some questions to ask yourself — and some tips on what these policies should include.
- Sexual Harassment Policy
- Sexual harassment continues to be a top, high-profile concern in today’s workplace. Informing and educating your employees through an up-to-date sexual harassment policy is critical — and some states require that your business have a sexual harassment policy in place. You must safeguard your business by communicating zero-tolerance guidelines for unwanted, unwelcome or inappropriate sexual comments or actions.
- Questions to address in a sexual harassment policy:
- • What kinds of behaviors constitute sexual harassment?
- • What are the consequences/disciplinary actions for employee behavior that violates your policy?
- • What are the actions an employee should take when an incident occurs?
- Pointers for your sexual harassment policy:
- • Provide a clear description and examples of actions or comments that demonstrate sexual harassment
- • Encourage the immediate reporting of incidents and identify clear procedures to report complaints
- • Appoint two different people for employees to report incidents, preferably one male and one female, as part of the reporting procedures
- Weapons in the Workplace 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 to address in a weapons in the workplace policy:
- • What items will you consider weapons?
- • What conduct do you want to prohibit?
- • What disciplinary measures do you want in place?
- Pointers for your weapons in the workplace policy:
- • 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
- 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 to address in a remote worker policy:
- • Who is eligible for remote work?
- • Do you have any limitations on remote work?
- • How will you monitor your remote workers?
- Pointers for your remote worker policy:
- • 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 concerns of a device being lost or stolen.
- Questions to address in a bring your own device policy:
- • What personal devices will you allow employees to use?
- • How will you monitor personal devices?
- • What limitations or security features will you require?
- Pointers for your bring your own device policy:
- • Comply with any applicable privacy laws
- • Establish procedure for end of employment
- • Include risks and liabilities
- Social Media Policy
- Although a social media policy can help protect your company’s reputation online and beyond, you should draft it to withstand scrutiny from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
- Questions to address in a social media policy for the workplace:
- • Do you need a policy for both business and personal use?
- • What guidelines need to be established?
- • What about the use of social media when at work?
- Pointers for your social media workplace policy:
- • Consider guidance from the NLRB
- • List specific confidential information that can’t be shared
- • Explain the disciplinary measures for policy violations
- 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 must be mindful of state laws that may allow more employee rights.
- Questions to address in a drug and alcohol workplace policy:
- • What substances do you want to prohibit?
- • What testing procedures do you want in place?
- • What are your disciplinary measures for policy violations?
- Pointers for your drug and alcohol workplace policy:
- • Comply with federal, state and local laws
- • Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- • Explain search and testing procedures
- Updated Confidentiality Policy
- Due to closer scrutiny by the NLRB, you no longer can 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 to address in a confidentiality policy:
- • What in your business needs to remain confidential?
- • What parameters do you want to set?
- • What are the consequences for violating this policy?
- Pointers for your confidentiality policy:
- • 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
Additional Insight and Direction from ComplyRight Experts
Although the specifics with these trending company policies will vary depending on your business 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 how to steer your company in the right direction, download our free tip sheet, 7 Top Company Policies for Today’s Changing Workplace. For a practical, online tool for creating, communicating and maintaining company policies, consider the Company Policies Smart App from HRdirect.