BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: What should we do if an employee refuses to sign an acknowledgment of the company’s handbook?
Answer: An important step when rolling out a handbook is requesting that all employees sign an acknowledgment that the handbook has been received and read. Handbooks are key employment documentation to protect your business from claims and lawsuits and employee signatures could serve as crucial evidence in legal proceedings.
Occasionally an employee will challenge this task and refuse to sign. Don’t force their hand, an employer is not legally required to have employees sign the handbook acknowledgment.
Here’s what you should do:
Talk to the employee about why they are refusing to sign. Often the employee believes that if they don’t sign, the policies will not apply to them or they won’t have to comply with certain procedures. Explain to the employee that refusing to sign does not make them exempt from the policies contained in the handbook. As a condition of their employment, they are still expected to adhere to all policies and follow all procedures published in the handbook.
If the employee still will not sign, you should document the refusal. Ask the employee to hand write a sentence or statement asserting that they are refusing to sign. If they will not agree to that, write a statement as a witness affirming that the employee received the handbook but would not sign the acknowledgement. Add documentation that the employee was notified that the policies and procedures will still apply and file with the employee’s records.
As a last measure, you can consider handling the matter with a disciplinary action including termination. Try to the address the reason(s) why the employee will not sign first. Then follow your usual procedure for misconduct or insubordination. Apply any adverse actions fairly and consistently for all employees who refuse to sign any company documents.
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Have a question for Lisa? Email her directly.
DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion