Lucas is a new hire at a local medical clinic. During his orientation, the HR Manager gives him the organization’s Employee Handbook to read and review. He skims through the relatively short document and moves on to the next part of his orientation.

2 months down the road, Lucas misses 3 days of work in a row and fails to call his supervisor to inform her of his absence. On the fourth day, he returns to his job and is terminated for job abandonment. Lucas informs his supervisor that this policy was never communicated to him. Why should he be terminated for violating a policy he was not aware of?

After a review of the Employee Handbook, it was discovered that the attendance policy did not indicate that 3 days of missed work without notification would result in termination; rather, this was an old, verbally communicated policy. Additionally, Lucas never signed a Handbook Acknowledgement form, so there was no proof that he had even reviewed the handbook. The company rescinds the termination, and Lucas returns to his job.

Many companies have been using the same handbook for years. A common assumption is that so long as the basic info is there, you’ll be fine. Wrong! The importance of a well drafted, well worded, and complete handbook could not be more crucial than it is today, state and federal employment and labor laws frequently being modified, and organizations such as the NLRB and DOL cracking down on non-compliance.

This month, we will be addressing a number of factors that apply to your handbook:

Top 10 Checklist for Handbooks – The list of things you can include in your handbook is endless. There are a number of vital policies that should be a part of every handbook, regardless of size, industry, or location.

Top 5 Signs your Handbook needs an Update – If certain components are missing, if particular wording is not there, if your handbook hasn’t been reviewed in a few years, it may be time for a thorough review and update to avoid potential pitfalls.

Things to Avoid in your Handbook – Just as important as what you need to include in your handbook is what NOT to include. Wording is very crucial and there are a number of phrases, policies, and word choices that should never make their way into your handbook.