November 2013 – HR Holiday Wish List, by Emily Coody Marks

By: Emily Coody Marks

Too early to think about the holidays? Not according to most retail establishments! So, just to get you in that holiday spirit, here is a list of the most popular, must-have HR gifts this season. Add them to your list!

1. Updated Employee Handbook
Who doesn’t want a shiny new Employee Handbook, with all the bells and whistles? You know, like one that comports with current employment laws. If you have to blow dust off the cover of your Employee Handbook, it’s time to update. An effective, up-to-date Employee Handbook gives clear notice of rules and regulations, communicates important information to employees, provides a roadmap for managers regarding implementation of policies, and most importantly, reflects conformity with current law. For example, if you have an attendance policy that mandates termination after a certain number of absences, automatically, you need to change it. This type of policy runs afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires individualized analysis of an employee’s situation through an interactive process.

2. Updated Job Descriptions
Review your job descriptions routinely to ensure they accurately reflect the actual requirements for a particular position. Clear job descriptions help employers make good hiring decisions, communicate specific expectations to applicants and employees, help differentiate between exempt and non-exempt positions, and aid employers called upon to defend employment decisions.

3. Social Media Policy
If you do not have a clearly communicated social media policy, get one. This is an area of much confusion for employers and employees alike. If you think employers have the right to fire employees because they publicize workplace grievances on social media sites, think again. When two or more employees complain about the terms and conditions of their workplace, they are probably engaging in protected concerted activity. If you fire employees for engaging in a protected concerted activity, the National Labor Relations Board will probably be in touch.

4. A Complete Guide to the ACA
Have questions about the Affordable Care Act? You are not alone. In fact, if you have no questions about the ACA, you should be on the speaking circuit making some serious income as a consultant. Despite the delay of the employer mandate, there are other deadlines which are still in full force and effect. Stay on top of this and make sure you are clear about employer obligations under this law.

5. An Employment Lawyer on Speed Dial
This is the gift that keeps on giving! Do you want to Google “employment lawyer” on a Friday afternoon when you have an emergency and just need a quick answer? Or, instead, do you want a lawyer you can get on her cell phone right away? Preferably, you want to speak to a lawyer who already has a good understanding of your business, the type of work you do, and the number and type of employees you have. If you do not have an on-going relationship with an employment lawyer, cultivate one. You will sleep better at night if you can run things by a lawyer before you act. Mistakes can be costly and litigating employment matters which could have been avoided is not an effective way to do business.

So, there you have it – the 2013 must-have HR holiday gifts. Add these to your wish list so you can ring in the new 2014 year with confidence.