Why Do You Need One?
Why do you continually hear that small businesses need an Employment Manual? One major reason is that it eliminates any misunderstandings about any policies or rules that your organization has. To go a step further an Employee Handbook will act in your defense if an employee claims you have treated them unfairly by disciplining or terminating them. In this sue happy environment where it doesn’t take much to create a law suit, a Policy Manual will help you tremendously prove that you had warned an employee of your rules and policies!
In addition, employees also like to lean on the excuse of discrimination when you have disciplined them. Without protection you may be in front of a judge! So what do I mean by protection and how could an Employment Manual offer that? It boils down to identifying what your rules are. As an example if you count a tardy as one second late or one hour late you can place that in your Employee Policy Handbook. If you have a rule that one “No Call – No Show” ends in termination, you can place that in your Policy Manual! If you have a policy where you have a Zero Tolerance for Gossip you can place that in your Employee Handbook!
So how does that apply to someone claiming discrimination? Well as you know in order to claim discrimination they must be in a protected class, such as, age, sex, religion, national origin, race, sexual preference, etc. So if someone that claims you are discriminating against them for disciplining them for being tardy you can provide your Employment Manual as evidence that you have a written policy on it. Now of course you better be treating everyone exactly the same and not only this person. If this is the case and you only have taken action against them, then you are looking at discrimination in its truest form.
The second most important point whether you have an Employment Manual or not is to treat everyone the same whether you like them or not! This is a huge mistake that many supervisor make and that is that when an employee that they think is valuable does something like misses a day without calling they do nothing more than talk with them. However, when an employee that is questionable misses a day without calling they want to take swift and immediate action. This is exactly what will get you in trouble! Include the fact that the employee is in a protected class and you will have the EEOC knocking on your door to investigate! Take it from me that this is not a good thing!
I personally have used an Employment Manual to resolve Unemployment Claims, EEOC Claims, Wrongful Termination Claims, and just simple misunderstandings. The cost of producing an Employee Handbook is so inexpensive that it is almost stupid not to have one! I think the last time I checked you can pick up some very good software for less than $50. I suppose that you can also hire an attorney and have one written for you for hundreds if not thousands of dollars, but if you own a business then you are smart enough to use most of the Employee Policy Handbook Software out there. Most of them offer all types of policies that you can just pick and choose from and then add right to your personally designed Employment Policy Manual.
Good Luck and May God Bless You!
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