“Solid. Solid as a rock.” Okay – who knows the song reference? Yes, I probably just dated myself. But we’re family so it’s okay.
But today I’m not talking about a song. I’m talking about your Foundation.
“Your HR Foundation”
Your HR Foundation begins with your employee handbook. Employee handbooks are an integral part of that foundation. The handbook is a guide for your employees that sets forth their roles and responsibilities as well as your organization’s expectations. It also advises employees of the organization’s obligations.
How solid is Your HR Foundation?
- Does your organization have an employee handbook?
- Have your employees been provided a hard copy or electronic version of the handbook?
- Do you have a signed acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook in every employee’s personnel file?
- Does your handbook specify what types of conduct are unacceptable?
- Do you have written anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies?
- Are these policies posted in the workplace for all employees to see?
- Is your complaint process and investigation
protocol in your handbook?
- Does it provide alternative avenues of reporting
- Do you have a standardized process for conducting workplace investigations?
- Have those policies been recently reviewed by the company and/or legal counsel and
has it been updated?
- Have you trained your employees and management personnel
about those policies?
- Have you documented that every employee and new
hire received training?
- Is there language clearly stating that the handbook is not be considered a contract and that you reserve the right to change it at any time?
- If you are in an employee at will state, is this language included?
If your answer to any of these questions is “No,” your organization’s foundation is on shaky ground.
An employee handbook communicates the organization’s culture, mission, values, policies, procedures and expectations to employees and provides policies about boundaries for acceptable behavior. It provides information to employees on how and where to report complaints and concerns, and how those matters will be investigated.
Employee handbooks are also important tools for reinforcing an organizations’ commitment to complying with federal and state laws. This is particularly important in the event of a an employee claim or lawsuit. If an employee files a claim for unemployment beneiftis, a charge of discrimination, or a lawsuit against the organization, to win, your attorneys must have plausible, credible defenses for the organization’s actions.
Asserting the defense is your attorney’s job.
Providing the offense is yours.
If your foundation is shaky, get to work!
If your foundation is solid, keep it that way. It’s easy for cracks to form.
About the Author:
Kelly Charles-Collins, Esq., MBA is an experienced Employment Law Attorney, National HR Leader, Author, TEDx Speaker, and Consultant. For over 20 years, she has worked with organizations to discover and leverage the true value of their workforce. An expert in Disrupting Unconscious Bias, Bystander Intervention and Workplace Investigations, Kelly helps organizations stay on the right side of the next #hashtag movement.
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