Handbook Updates for 2020

We’ve rung in the new year and are kicking off a new decade, and now more than ever is the perfect time to review your company’s employee handbook to ensure your organization remains compliant in 2020.

When was the last time you updated your employee handbook?

Your handbook is one of your best organizational protections, as it creates a foundation for compliance and employee communications. It is a set of expectations that includes required federal, state, and local compliance language. Hence, it must be regularly updated and widely disseminated to everyone in your organization. With the start of the new year, now is an ideal time to look into making these updates.

Due to the many changes in federal, state, and local employment laws in 2019 and the addition of new and modified regulations effective January 1, 2020, a review of your employee handbook should be completed to ensure proper compliance with the law and address any changes that may have occurred with the business structure or practices. It is recommended as a best practice to update your employee handbook annually with compliant content; especially for multistate employers and those with remote workers in other states.

Changes Needing Attention

Below is a list of some of the major topics that were revised or added in 2019 and January 2020 across the United States:

  • Ban of pay history inquiries
  • Natural hair laws and grooming requirements
  • Anti-harassment training
  • Legalized medical and recreational marijuana
  • Use of Artificial Intelligence in hiring
  • Expanded Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Mandated employer leave – paid and unpaid
  • Wage theft ordinances
  • Drug testing policies and cannabis
  • Protection for domestic violence survivors
  • Pregnancy accommodation laws
  • Noncompete laws and agreement restrictions
  • Fair workweek and predictable scheduling ordinances
  • School activities leaves
  • Pay equity and wage transparency laws
  • Data and privacy laws

Keeping in mind the many changes effective for 2020, the following list provides suggestions to consider when updating your handbook:

  • Parental leave policies to cover both males and females
  • Workplace violence and weapons policy
  • Data security and cyber breaches
  • Whistleblower policies, including protection for witnesses and confidentiality
  • Student loan relief
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity, including updating wording to express the intention to treat all employees equally regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, or sexual identity
  • Biometric use in the workplace
  • Social media policies
  • Reasonable accommodations to reflect changes in employee diversity
  • Smoking policies – addressing e-cigarettes and vaping
  • Drug and alcohol policies – addressing medical and recreational marijuana, opioid usage, and prescribed medications
  • Clarify your bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy to include wearable tech and other internet of things (IoT) devices
  • Spell out rules regarding the use of company-issued devices
  • Clarification of employee-used devices for company business
  • Employee monitoring tools, addressing why they are used and what is done with the information
  • Dress code policy
  • Restraining orders
  • Code of conduct/disciplinary policy to address off-duty conduct
  • Overtime, highlighting the approval process

Every company has unique challenges; therefore, it is recommended that your handbook review be done to identify specific areas that require clarification for employees and supervisors. Taking a look, from not only the perspective of a long-term employee and supervisor, but also that of a new hire will ensure everyone understands the company’s expectations and they will be followed as well as enforced consistently.

Next Steps

The review and update of your employee handbook should be at the top of your to-do list for 2020. Once the update is complete, it is a good idea to include legal counsel in the review process to examine all new policies and updates.The rollout of the updated handbook should consist of training the management staff and the organization as a whole, in addition to the distribution of the updated employee handbook to every employee.

If you have any questions about updating your employee handbook in 2020 or if you are interested in learning more about how Sikich can assist with completing your compliance and HR initiatives, please contact your Sikich Human Capital Management & Payroll Consultant today.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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