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Nonprofits - Is Your Employee Handbook Due For an Update?

2/6/19 – Erin Young

Having recently closed the 2018 calendar year, now is the ideal time to evaluate options for improving your employee handbook. Was there any legal activity instituted in 2018 that affects your current policies? Were there any situations, repeated or otherwise, that were not addressed in the handbook? Regardless of your nonprofit organization’s size, it is imperative that your employee handbook is all-encompassing, up-to-date, and easily comprehended. Listed below is some guidance we suggest your nonprofit review for 2019 and beyond.

Update regularly

To stay current, tune up your employee handbook once a year — more often, if needed. Look at revisions to federal, state and municipal employment laws. Changes over the last few years are far too numerous to detail, and vary widely by state (and municipality). But policies in certain areas may need updating.

Here are some key state and local issues employers should note when updating their handbooks.

Anti-Harassment Policy

With nationwide harassment allegations at an all-time high, it is critical, now, more than ever, that your organization has a sound anti-harassment policy in place. This policy should be thorough, yet straightforward, as well as highly visible to the entire organization. A firm anti-harassment policy shows that your organization is committed to being a harassment-free workplace. It is imperative that you clearly state the boundaries of conduct your organization has established. Anti-harassment is one handbook policy that should contain ample legal terminology.

Employee Benefits

While the Employee Benefits section of your handbook allows the organization to explain eligibility requirements, it should not list the details of your healthcare plans. Rather than listing eligibility requirements for both full-time and part-time employees, it is considered good practice to list full-time requirements only, while stating that a number of factors affect the benefits for part-time employees.

Miscellaneous Policies

There are a number of additional policies that are currently under the societal microscope. These include: weapon, confidentiality, drug use, and race/gender discrimination policies. Immersed in an ever-changing society, it is important to review and revise these policies on a regular basis.

Pending Bills

Standard government procedure will see state legislatures inundated with new bills over the next several weeks. These bills will make their way to state governors in March and should be closely monitored within your organization, as their passage may have repercussions on a number of your organization’s existing policies.
In the coming months, we will closely monitor the pending bills that have the potential to impact Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. These include revisions of sick leave policies, extensions of those protected under employment discrimination, and modifications pertaining to criminal history inquiries.

Follow legislative and regulatory trends

Besides current laws and regulations, a prudent employer will keep an eye on proposed federal legislation and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations that, if enacted, will affect employment law — and, hence, the policies in your employee handbook. This year, you should follow developments in connection with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which alters the overtime exemption requiring employers to reclassify certain workers as nonexempt from overtime, depending on their salary and duties.

When updating your employee handbook, obtain the assistance of human resources, technology personnel, and employment counsel. Once updated, don’t forget to train your supervisors on the revised policies. For further guidance pertaining to your company's employee handbook, related policies, and how to approach the process, contact VonLehman’s Human Resources Consulting Team today!