Well-written and up-to-date employee handbooks inform employees of important credit union policies, standards and rights. They also help prevent harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace or, if necessary, strengthen the credit union’s defense should an employee complaint be filed.
But to be effective (and legal), handbooks and policy manuals must be examined and updated regularly. A few of points to consider as you review your handbook are discussed below.
What is the difference between an HR policy manual and an employee handbook? Do we need both? HR policy manuals are comprehensive guides written for managers and supervisors and are intended to establish managerial actions, ensure organizational consistency and set forth HR policies in some detail. They should be distributed to the HR department, managers and supervisors only.
Employee handbooks are much shorter documents that summarize key policies appropriate for distribution to employees. It is generally recommended that all credit unions should have employee handbooks and those with more than 25 employees should probably have manuals as well.
Are credit unions legally required to have written policies?
Written policies are generally not legally required. However, a few may be required. Some policies may be necessary to demonstrate a company’s good faith in complying with federal and state law, or they may be important in mounting a defense to an employee lawsuit. For example, courts have made it clear that employers need harassment policies to defend against employee lawsuits.
What about the wording?
Remember, what you say can and will be held against you. A plaintiff’s attorney will dissect a handbook. Words do matter, so be cautious. Avoid language that states that employees:
Closely review language so that it remains flexible and doesn’t require the organization to act a certain way in every instance. Use words like “may,” “generally” and “usually.”
So what should we say?
Include statements making clear that:
Remember, it may be wise to have your attorney review your handbook to ensure it complies with federal, state, and local law.
HRN Performance Solutions, a division of CU Solutions Group provides two easy-to-use online employee handbook and policy manual compliance products. Both are affordable, written by HR legal experts, and easily customizable.