Carl is the owner and manager of a wine and spirits wholesaler from New Jersey. He treats his employees like family, in fact some of them are. His wife is the bookkeeper and his nephew is their top-performing salesperson.
The company has been in business for over 30 years and has a tight-knit culture. They pride themselves on offering generous perks to their employees, including steep product discounts and unlimited time off.
Some Sobering News
Without knowing why, the company receives a letter from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, notifying them of an audit. The letter informs Carl that an inspector will visit his workplace and that he needs to produce a list of required documents including time, payroll, and employee records.
Among the critical items to demonstrate compliance is a copy of the employee handbook. Unfortunate for Carl, the company doesn’t have one.
Carl thought that since his company offered paid time-off beyond what is required, and since handbooks aren’t mandatory in the state of New Jersey, his company didn’t need one. He soon regrets that decision as he and his team struggle to find the proper documentation to support adherence to New Jersey’s strict leave laws.
Carl isn’t alone. Many employers have misconceptions when it comes to needing an employee handbook. In this article, we dispel a few of the most common ones.
Employee Handbook Misconceptions
If any of these objections sound familiar, take note.
“We used a handbook template that we found online from a reputable source.”
Unlike dollar store socks, employee handbooks are not one-size-fits-all. They need to be customized based on many factors including the number of employees, the states they work in, your industry, culture, and business practices. With a generic or shared handbook, you can’t be certain that it includes all necessary laws based on your company’s unique attributes.
“We don’t want to put anything legal in writing for our employees.”
The misconception is that if an employer doesn’t notify their employees of their rights, the employees won’t hold the employer accountable to them. Employment law is easily accessible to anyone with access to a lawyer or the internet. Keeping employees in the dark won’t prevent lawsuits, and can result in lights out for your company culture.
“We created a handbook several years ago which is good enough.”
Employment law is constantly changing, keeping up with it is an essential part of business. Like the gallon of milk in your fridge, an employee handbook that is a few months old can be harmful.
“We don’t need a handbook. We are like a family. We trust our employees and they trust us.”
Whether your office “family” resembles the Cleaver’s or the Rose’s, having a handbook is essential. It is a resource for you to communicate your employee rights and company policies. Doing so protects the culture you have worked hard to achieve. The employee handbook is the foundation for a harmonious working relationship.
“We don’t know where to start.”
Balance Point can help! Don’t attempt to write one yourself. Our employee handbook service will help with the development of a new handbook with customized policies and procedures with real time updates of all relevant federal, state, and local employment laws.
Our team will guide you through the process—and help you infuse your company culture—so you can rest assured knowing your handbook is current, compliant, and compelling.
Download our Guide to Employee Handbooks
In this free guide you’ll discover why companies of every size need a handbook, what a handbook should include, and how it can protect your organization from employment claims.