For business owners, there is always a risk of a current or former employee bringing suit discrimination, harassment or another type of unfair treatment. Such lawsuits have the potential to take considerable time and money away from a company’s day-to-day business dealings. However, there are certain steps a company can take to lower the risk of future litigation. Creating an employee handbook is one such step.
Each state has different laws dictating what sorts of areas you must address in your handbook. However, the strongest, most effective employee handbooks are those that accomplish two main objectives. First, they help protect your company against litigation. Second, they help your workers feel more at ease and supported in their positions.
How handbooks help reduce the chance of litigation
Employee handbooks help lower the chances of litigation by clearly spelling out a company’s policies, procedures, and benefits. Furthermore, workers who sign affirmations that they have read employee handbooks and agreed to conform their behavior to the standards within the handbooks are subject to a duty to behave according to the handbook. Handbooks further protect against claims of wrongful termination or retaliation by spelling out the grounds for employee discipline and termination.
There is a risk, however, in creating an employee handbook because it can impose a higher standard of care than what would be generally recognized. Businesses who adopt specific practices can be held liable for negligence for failing to conform to their established practice.
What to cover in an employee handbook
Typically employee handbooks address paid leave, benefits and behavioral expectations. Many also address hiring and disciplinary practices and any workplace health and safety procedures and dress codes.
When crafting your employee handbook, consider doing so with someone who has a comprehensive understanding of Alaska’s employment laws.