Handbook Checkup


Your employee handbook is an important asset for your company, providing new and even longtime staff members with the details on your corporate policies, office rules and company culture. Because this is an item that will be seen and utilized by everyone in the organization, it’s important to revisit and update your handbook on a regular basis.  An outdated handbook can be a liability. The first of the year is a perfect time to revisit and revise.

Here are some key items that likely need updating for 2019:

Changes in federal or state laws

One element of your handbook that you should pay special attention to when updating includes any new/amended federalor state laws that will take effect in the new year.

Anti-Harassment & Sexual Harassment Policy

This should come as no surprise, as allegations of workplace sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement have made headlines across the country. Your company’s policy can help set the tone and expectation that your company is committed to maintaining a workplace free of harassment. Typically, policies in handbooks should avoid legalese, but this is one policy where your company should explain not only what constitutes sexual harassment under the law, but also what type of conduct will violate your company’s anti-harassment policy.

Drug testing 

Applicants and employees should be clear when to expect drug testing (usually pre-employment and post-accident), and what happens when you flunk (denied employment, termination, referral for help, subject to random testing).

The key is to make sure your policy prohibits being “under the influence” while working or while on the premises.  That includes pot, alcohol or prescription meds.

Employee benefits package

Any adjustments or new benefits added to the company’s offerings should appear in the updated employee handbook. This includes making it clear when certain benefits are being replaced, or when new requirements or policies are put in place.

Rules around different working styles

An increasing number of employers are beginning to enable new working styles for their employees, including the ability to operate remotely or from home. However, it’s important that this policy and other related rules are included in the handbook. For instance, if the business limits the number of days a worker can operate remotely during a week or month, or if certain permissions are required ahead of working from outside the office, these should be communicated in the updated handbook.

Office etiquette

This might also be a good opportunity for the HR and leadership teams to take another look at their policies and rules related to company culture and office etiquette. If staff has been having trouble adhering to refrigerator cleaning rules or dress code, for instance, updating the handbook with a clearer policy or different strategy could be beneficial.

Social media and smartphones 

Another area to check for updates concerns the use of social media and personal mobile devices. If the organization has a bring-your-own-device policy in place, this may impact a policy on the use of smartphones and other devices. However, it’s important that employees understand that taking personal calls or messages during work hours can take away from their productive time. Similarly, employees should be discouraged from visiting their personal social media outside of their lunch hour or break time.


Keeping up with the times – Unfortunately, policies relating to safety, security, emergency plans, emergency contact information, etc. are becoming increasingly necessary and important.

Updated handbook, now what?

There are several channels for communicating and disseminating the updated handbook. This could include a mass email with a link to the new material, a post on the company’s intranet system, or even a post in the break room to ensure workers are aware.  In addition, it can be helpful to highlight where the updates or changes are in the handbook and explain how these policies differ from what was in place in the past.

It is important to have employees acknowledge the fact that they received the updated handbook material and that they took the time to read through and understand the changes; with an employee signature.

If you would like help performing a handbook audit to start off your new year, contact HR On-Call, LLC at 515-401-2233.


Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous 2019!



Susan Arnold
HR On-Call, LLC
p. 515.401.2233
e. Susan@HROn-Call.com

A little more about us:
Susan Arnold, owner and lead HR Consultant at HR On-Call, LLC. Susan has 20+ years of HR experience and provides a HR presence to business organizations without the overhead expense of a full-time employee. Susan helps business owners improve employer/employee relationships and allows them to focus on their business while resting assured that they are in full compliance with state and federal law.

Areas of expertise:

  • Reduce Employer Risk and Liability
  • Customized Employee Handbooks
  • Performance Reviews
  • Improve Employee/Employer Relationships
  • Background Checks
  • Personality Assessments
  • Guaranteed EEO Compliance
  • Employee Retention
  • Recruitment / Hiring
  • Employee Discipline/Discharge

Susan is passionate about her customers and listens to their needs. If you are interested in any of the details above or would like more information about her services, please contact Susan!

If you have questions on how your specific policy should read or need help navigating a certain instance, contact HR On-Call, LLC


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