Seven Reasons to Revise Your Employee Handbook Now

May 5, 2020

By: John Vincent Baranello and Rebecca Zittell

As the workplace changes in light of COVID-19, it is important for employers to update their employee handbooks, both to get out in front of an evolving workplace and to ensure compliance with developing laws.  Among the policies employers should consider are:

  1. Work from Home.  Although states are starting to talk about reentry into the workplace, companies need to remain flexible in this new normal.  All employers should implement a Work from Home policy that addresses the needs of both the company and its workforce.  See our article, How To Manage Your Remote Workforce.
  2. Leave Policies.  Federal and state authorities have passed a variety of new sick and family leave laws, including but not limited to laws specifically addressing COVID-19.[1] 
  3. Teleconferencing.  We have all heard of the teleconference hackers and the damage these hackers, and other privacy invasions, can inflict.  Employers should ensure their Teleconferencing Policy and protocols lay out security parameters, ensure confidentiality and privacy, and comply with applicable Privacy Policies. We can explain how best to do so.
  4. Health Monitoring.  Companies are required to ensure a safe workspace free from recognized hazards and, in light of COVID-19, should explain measures to monitor their workforce to prevent the presence and spread of any communicable disease.  We also draft legally compliant health questionnaires. 
  5. Travel.  Companies should ensure Business and Personal Travel Policies are current.  In particular, employers must consider when companies can or should: (i) restrict employees from travel to certain regions, (ii) demand that employees self-quarantine upon return, or (iii) require employees to submit to temperature checks or submit return to work certifications.    
  6. Workplace Hygiene.  To help protect themselves and their employees, clients and guests, companies should draft and follow updated Workplace Hygiene and Safety Policies requiring employees to practice sound personal hygiene and keep a clean and healthy workspace. 
  7. Discrimination, Disability, and Reasonable Accommodation Policies.  The “new normal” at the workplace in light of COVID-19, including but not limited to issues like testing and protective gear, increases the potential for racial, religious and other types of discrimination lawsuits.  Employer policies, including requests for accommodations, should be up-to-date with the most recent guidance to address these concerns. 

Whether companies have an outdated handbook, handbooks with missing policies and/or agreements, or no handbook at all, Moses & Singer LLP employment attorneys can assist with ensuring employee handbooks reflect policies that protect your company and those who work there.