In our society,laws, technology, and culture constantly change. Because of these ever-shifting norms, it is important for businesses to regularly review and update their employee handbooks to ensure that as many possible scenarios and topics are addressed. Doing so will help to not only prevent sticky predicaments in the work place, but it will also serve as a guideline for reporting procedures, compliance, and standard repercussions. A comprehensive employee handbook is an essential communication tool between a company and their employees. A well-written handbook will set forth expectations on wages, benefits, recording hours, conduct and company culture. Although you may think that you have an employee handbook that covers all pertinent topics, it is almost impossible for a handbook to efficiently encompass modern progressions without being regularly revised.
Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated annually (or bi-annually) in order to include topics that were not previously foreseen. For instance, the popularity of e-cigarettes and vapors is on the rise. While your employee handbook may cover smoking cigarettes on the job site, it would be wise to revise your policy to include e-cigarettes and vapors in order to avoid any ambiguity or misinterpretation among employees. All businesses should require employees to review employee handbooks as they are updated. A well-written employee handbook may be what forestalls a lawsuit.
Some topics which we encourage employers to research and review when updating their employee handbook include:
- Accommodation policies
- Specifically, pregnancy accommodations and policies regarding nursing mothers.
- Employee section 7 rights
- Making sure to modify any policies that run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act.
- Attendance policies
- Ensuring that they are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Social Media policies
- Particularly regarding discussing company information, events, and clients on non-company social media accounts.
- Data Protection
- It is in a company’s best interest to consider including a policy regarding company data on employee personal devices.
When revising your employee handbook, some good practices to keep in mind are:
- Consider and include issues and situations that have recently arisen with staff, and make sure they are addressed in the playbook..
- Evaluate recent law and policy changes that may impact the company.
- Get input from managers and staff.
- Make your new handbook readily available and accessible.
- Implement a sign off procedure to ensure employees review the changes.
- Make sure policies adequately reflect practices of the company.
StaffMetrix HR understands the complexity of revising employee handbooks–which is why we offer it as a service to our clients. Running a company is time consuming, which is why hiring a PEO such as StaffMetrix HR to manage Human Resource tasks (such as creating and revising employee handbooks) is an efficient way for business owners to create more time to focus on other major areas of their company.
Do you have any questions, comments or feedback? We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to get in touch with us by leaving a comment below. You can ask questions on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, too.
Guest Blogger Mike Haberman of Omega HR Solutions
Mike Haberman has been in the human resources industry for 35 years, where he has held positions as a practitioner and a consultant to small businesses. In addition to consulting, he has been writing human resource blogs for almost a decade and has written approximately 1700 blogs to date. He also teaches certification preparation classes at The University of Georgia, participates in human resources webinars, and occasionally speaks at HR related conferences.
My thanks to Scott Soder for inviting me to contribute to this blog and share some of my insight on human resources and PEO’s. I met Scott approximately three years ago (prior to the creation of StaffMetrix,) when his sole company was PayMetrix HR, which offers its clients payroll and human resources services. PayMetrix HR was running into situations where their payroll clients needed more than just payroll advice; they needed HR advice, and that was the genesis of StaffMetrix HR. Scott found that the company’s clients had questions that were greater than just payroll, which is when I was brought in to provide expert HR advice to his clients until the creation of StaffMetrix HR.
Currently I work primarily with companies that have fewer than 100 employees and have no professional or human resources person in their organization. Typically it’s the office manager, company owner, or accounting manager handling all of the companies’ HR responsibilities. Frequently, that individual has payroll responsibilities and someone in the company decides that payroll falls under human resources, and then gives that individual other HR responsibilities. These employees typically struggle with these responsibilities because it’s not their area of expertise. They don’t have the time to learn what it takes to manage human resources effectively. HR is a huge area of responsibility; one that is constantly changing; laws may stay in place but they don’t remain static. HR is a constantly changing arena with a lot of detail that is associated with it.
Currently, my major areas of focus are compliance issues. One of the most common compliance mistakes companies make is associated with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Companies are not paying their employees correctly. Unfortunately for these companies (and even for some companies who are paying employees correctly), the US Department of Labor is now revising the Fair Labor Standards Act, and it could significantly affect many companies. The US Department of Labor is changing the definition of an exempt employee and the requirements for what it takes to be an exempt employee. This will put many companies in a complicated predicament. They will be required to provide job descriptions and justifications for the employees that remain exempt. These companies are going to have to change many of their current employees who are exempt, to non-exempt–or they are going to have to raise the amount of money they are paying them in order to maintain that exemption. I predict that by the end of summer we will hear from The Department of Labor about the revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and a lot of companies will need to reevaluate all their employees that are currently exempt and determine if they can maintain that exemption.
Another compliance issue is wage errors. Companies aren’t accurately tracking employee hours or paying overtime correctly. These companies typically have employees that are salaried, and they have the assumption that because they are salaried, they don’t have to pay these employees overtime. This is an incorrect assumption. You can have both hourly employees and salaried employees, but there is a middle category, too. You can have a salaried non-exempt employee: which means that despite their salaried status, if they work more than 40 hours a week, employers are required to pay them overtime. In order to do this, employers have to correctly track employee hours. A lot of companies are not tracking time properly, and if they are caught, they end up with a large bill of back wages they have to pay, and sometimes even a class action suit.
For a small company that doesn’t have HR administrators, a PEO brings the organization an in house expertise they lack, PEO’s have the people and resources to get questions answered and to create solutions. For companies in all industries, the value that goes along with a PEO is the access to Fortune 500 Employee Benefits, Workers Compensation Insurance and 401k Retirement plans. The insurance market is changing dramatically which makes a PEO option even more attractive as it creates longer term stability while typically providing some cost savings to the business. As an organization grows, they can reevaluate company size and administrative fees of the PEO–but prior to that growth, smaller companies can get HR expertise by signing up with a PEO.
To learn more about Mike Haberman or read his blog, visit http://omegahrsolutions.com
To learn more about the PEO services StaffMetrix HR can offer your company, feel free to get in touch with us by leaving a comment below.
How Your Company Can Use Fortune 500 Benefits Packages to Recruit and Retain Employees
A recent Harvard Business Review study stated that human resource leaders have determined that attractive benefits packages matter more to employees than a high base salary. Fortune 500 companies are the businesses most often recognized not only for their success and name, but for the highly desirable benefits packages their employees receive. However, your company doesn’t have to be listed in the Fortune 500 in order to offer these attractive benefits to your employees.
Offering employees attractive benefits packages has become an integral competitive tool for recruiting and retaining employees for businesses of all sizes. The type of work benefits offered to employees could be the deciding factor for an interviewee who is torn between offers from companies. A successful business will always need top talent, and the best way to ensure that the best of the best accepts your company’s offer is to provide an exemplary benefits package that your competitors aren’t offering.
An attractive, competitive benefits package includes multiple components of health insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, a retirement plan, and paid time off. There are a variety of medical and retirement plans which businesses can offer employees; however, not all businesses have access to many of the Fortune 500-type benefits packages. That’s when a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can be an essential tool for business owners. Navigating the type of packages to offer employees can be confusing. Business owners must consider what packages are considered competitive, and without sufficient knowledge and access to what is being offered, they risk falling short when it comes to providing employees with benefits packages that will satisfy their needs. PEO’s have access to a variety of outstanding employee benefits programs, which the average small business owner may not be able to access. Utilizing a PEO alleviates the difficulties of trying to find a benefits package that is not only competitive, but also matches your company’s employee size and budget. Once the main benefits components have been decided, employers must make decisions on what additional package elements to include, such as 401k and stock options, PEO’s can help to decide what additional components are best suited for your company’s needs.
Using a PEO such as StaffMetrix HR allows business owners to offer current and potential employees the top benefits plan prices, which will often save the company more money than the plans they find on their own. Hiring a PEO to assist in creating the appropriate package to offer employees guarantees that owners not only receive the best rates for their package, but it also ensures that they are offering benefits packages which will attract and retain top talent.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an office of two or a warehouse of hundreds; StaffMetrix HR can help you find the benefits package that best fits your business and budget. To get in touch with us, leave a comment below.
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