Businesses without written rules may think they are creating a flexible, family-oriented workplace without a bunch of needless restrictions. After all, workplace morale is better when the environment is not unnecessarily rigid, right? While well-intentioned, this is generally a bad idea. In disputes ranging from unemployment claims to lawsuits, your company’s lack of written rules, policies and procedures will be frowned upon by courts and government agencies and may lead to disastrous results.
Running a business without written rules might have worked many years ago. However, times have changed. In today’s business world, there are countless statutes, regulations, ordinances and even important cases that govern employers and the workplace. Many of today’s laws are unforgiving. Compliance is critical. Here are general observations based on our experience:
- Your business is generally more likely to lose unemployment claims if the employee was unaware of important rules/procedures because there is no employee handbook.
- Written policies that clearly prohibit sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation provide legal defenses that can help your business avoid liability, particularly when employees are told exactly what to do if they experience, observe or suspect harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
- When your business has a policy that prohibits unlawful payroll deductions and advises employees of what to do if their pay has been unlawfully docked, errors that might otherwise result in massive overtime liability can often be fixed without harsh consequences.
- When your company is defending itself in a lawsuit in trial, your case will be stronger if you can direct the judge and jury to rules the employee knew about but violated anyway.
If your business does not have an employee handbook, we can write one at an affordable price that is tailored to your business. If you believe an existing handbook may be in need of an update, we can review it and make revisions in order to ensure compliance with current employment laws.
Once the handbook is complete, we will bind and deliver copies to your facility and conduct a “rollout” meeting in which we educate your management team on the importance of consistent adherence to company policies. We provide hypotheticals and answer questions. While having a good employee handbook is critical, consistent implementation of the rules, policies and procedures in the handbook is equally important.