A San Diego employer can prevent a lot of employee-related disputes and lawsuits through a carefully crafted employee handbook, combined with a strong employment contract. The “lawyers for employers” at the Watkins Firm work with our business clients to tighten all internal employment related documentation including policies and procedures, employment contracts and the employee handbook to reduce exposure to violations of federal, state and local laws and to ensure maximum employee performance.
There are some things you should consider about your existing employee handbook, including (but not limited to):
a. Make sure that your employee handbook encourages employees to bring all questions, concerns and complaints to the attention of their direct supervisors, and when appropriate your HR department or company leadership. The best way to prevent a lawsuit is to resolve matters when they arise, before they have the opportunity to blow out of proportion. Our attorneys can often help to negotiate resolution to serious disputes before a lawsuit arises, while protecting our employer clients form additional complications and exposure
b. If you are going to list specific performance metrics or offense that will result in disciplinary action or discharge, make sure that your documentation clearly explains that those listed are provided for illustrative purposes, and not an exhaustive list of all offenses or corrective actions available to you as an employer.
c. Make sure that your handbook clearly states that it is not a contract, and that the company reserves the right to change or update it at any time. When the employee handbook is altered or updated, your employees should be provided a new copy of the handbook and provide written acknowledgement that they have received and reviewed all information contained within the handbook.
d. The employee handbook should be written in plain and simple language, and in a tone that is respectful to employees. Be careful not to place too much information into your handbook, or too detailed of a description regarding situational policies. A recent lawsuit against a major bank was successful due to specific language contained within the employee handbook regarding the use of sick time for maternity leave and “ladies with children going to school” as evidence of discrimination against women. Less is more.
The attorneys at the Watkins Firm can review your existing employee handbook to ensure it is in compliance with all new federal, state and local employment laws. We also work to ensure that your employment contracts work effectively and hand-in-hand with the employee handbook to reduce your exposure to employee-related litigation.
We invite you to contact us for a free consultation at 858-535-1511 to learn more about our services for San Diego employers.