The COVID pandemic has forever redefined the workplace. The employee handbook has always been an important tool for employers to provide clarity as to employee expectations, identifying workplace policies, sharing the company’s mission, vision, and values, and fulfilling obligations under federal and/or state laws. However, in today’s workplace where remote and hybrid work has become a part of the new workplace culture, the employee handbook has become essential in communicating the workplace policies consistently whether it be with an employee working at the company site or an employee working remotely who lives across the country. With the evolution of the workplace employers must consider revising their employee handbooks to address different state laws, providing guidelines for employees who work remote, and updating the company’s mission and workplace culture statement. Today’s presentation will review the anatomy of the employee handbook and identify sections that are required under federal and/or state laws; identifying words and statements that should or should not be in the handbook to ensure the handbook is not treated as an employment contract; revising certain policies for the remote workers; and how best to address multiple state laws.
Key topics to be discussed:
Identify employment policies and laws that should be covered in every employee handbook
Provide tips on how to ensure an employee handbook is not viewed by the courts as a contract
Review and update work remote policies
Discuss when other state laws apply and the best ways to provide guidance on those laws
Date: May 18, 2023
Sarah N. Turner | Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP
Ms. Turner’s Employment and Labor practice focuses on employers and includes a hybrid of counseling and litigation. Ms. Turner is an experienced litigator who has represented and defended employers in matters involving claims for wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, privacy, defamation, ADA, leave and benefits, breach of contract, violation of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and wage and hour. Ms. Turner practices in both Washington and Oregon’s state and federal trial and appellate courts, and her practice includes arbitrations before American Arbitration Association and Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services. Ms. Turner also has experience representing clients before federal and state agencies including the National Labors Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, Department of Health, Washington’s Labor & Industries, Washington’s Human Rights Commission, Employee Security Department, Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, and other state and local administrative agencies.
In addition to litigating employment disputes Ms. Turner provides employers with guidance and recommendations on a broad range of workplace issues including, discipline and termination of employees; wage and hour requirements; addressing reasonable accommodation and disability issue; and union-related issues from handling grievances to traditional labor disputes involving unfair labor practices and federal preemption issues. Ms. Turner’s counseling practice also includes advising employers on their requirements under the Affordable Care Act and ERISA-related issues, including reviewing benefit summary plan descriptions; drafting employment contracts, severance agreements, employee handbooks, and drug and alcohol policies and testing (with a focus on cannabis in the workplace).
Ms. Turner remains active in the firm’s COVID-19 response team where during the pandemic she provided counseling, guidance, trainings, and drafting of workplace policies on employer’s response to the pandemic, remote working, coronavirus federal legislation, and respective state orders. She is currently assisting employers navigate to other workplace models including remote and hybrid work, and flexible schedules.
Ms. Turner is committed to educating on employment and cannabis-related issues and she often is presenting nationwide or writing on these topics.
I. Identify employment policies and laws that should be covered in every employee handbook | 2:00pm – 2:30pm
II. Provide tips on how to ensure an employee handbook is not viewed by the courts as a contract | 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Break | 3:00pm – 3:10pm
III. Review and update work remote policies | 3:10pm – 3:40pm
IV. Discuss when other state laws apply and the best ways to provide guidance on those laws | 3:40pm – 4:10pm