Human Resource departments across all industries are being advised by their attorneys to close four employee handbook loopholes that could help the employee. An employer’s policies and guidelines are the foundation for what is expected of the employee. It also outlines what individuals in the workplace are entitled to.
The following are 4 major areas employees need to be aware of. Your boss doesn’t want you to learn and understand how these things can help you if and when needed.
- Unequal workplace protections
- Our employers must provide protection and equitably address everyone affected by company policy. For example, your boss says, “You have the right to join a union or not. If anyone pressures you join or not join we will make that harassment is quickly stopped! Besides, we intend to keep this a non-union company. The problem with this policy is its heavy one-sided protection. It might have been intended to protect those who want to join and not join a union. However, the 7th circuit Court ruled the policy unlawful. Why? It didn’t provide an “equal protection guarantee” for employees sympathetic to unions.
- Incomplete Disclaimers
- Many employers have only one disclaimer that doesn’t cover all the different areas of an employee handbook. If employees don’t understand or have a hard time finding it in the handbook it could be used against your boss in a lawsuit.
If your employer’s handbook disclaimer doesn’t cover the following specific areas this could give YOU a BIG advantage in an employment dispute.
- Beginning disclaimer
- A crystal clear statement the employment is “At Will” and there Is NO employment contract
- Benefits disclaimer or qualifier
- This defines premium contribution changes being at the employers discretion. If there are any differences between the official plan and the employers handbook, the official plan takes precedence.
- The dreaded (my opinion ;0) “AT WILL” disclaimer
- Make sure all employees understand that employment is “At Will”. This means you can be terminated for any reason or no reason.
- When outlining all the examples of misconduct, your boss should state the policy is not inclusive of every potential example of misconduct.
- The Acknowledgment
- Most employers want or require you to sign a document acknowledging you have read, agree and had an opportunity to ask questions about the terms of employment outlined in the handbook. This basically summarizes all the aforementioned points.
- Overly severe policies
- many employers make the mistakes over creating policy guidelines that go over and above state and federal laws. If your employer for example seeks to enforce a company policy under the FMLA (family Medical Leave Act) that goes beyond the actual law it could find itself in legal hot water.
Career seekers and employees should make sure they have a complete open-eyed understanding of what’s in employee handbook and how it could be used against them.
**What matters to me….is to help my fellow employee!**