Policy and Procedure Manuals, Discrimination Based on Religion, Equal Pay Act


Executive Summary: Almost all top tier business concerns develop HR policies and procedures. These can be excellent tools to welcome employees, to ensure a relatively consistent application of company policies, create a desired culture, and provide answers to commonly asked employee questions. If poorly written, however, policies can entangle an employer in a network of promises or representations the company cannot keep. The CEO should recognize that few employees read a Policy and Procedures Manual. Reading is reserved for HR managers and plaintiff attorneys. The HR community consistently makes the mistake of mixing a “Handbook”, which should be limited to introducing an employee to the company and answering common questions, with “policies and procedures”.

Discussion. The terms – “Handbook, HR Manual, Company Guidelines, Policies and Procedures” have no statutory or legal definition and invariably are mixed together in one binding. The more sophisticated the Human Resource Department, the more likely the Guidelines, Policies and particularly the Manual will be overly cumbersome, too detailed, full of representations the company cannot keep, and be full of legalisms HR managers occasionally do not understand.

A best practice would be to create a handbook that is given to the employee upon hiring, and serves the same purpose as a road map, or a “Welcome to BYU” flyer.


The Handbook
An introduction that: (1) welcomes the employee and (2) tells the employee briefly about the company, its products, the names of the management team, how long the company has been in business, its web site and telephone number. The official welcome page is signed by the President or CEO.

A“ Let’s Get Started” -section.

When do employees get paid.
How to open a direct deposit into your checking account.
Where is the first aid station. Where is the HR department.
Where is the cafeteria – and what are its hours.
How do I get a sticker for the employee parking lot.
Who do I contact if I am sick.
A map of the “campus” if there is more than one building – if not, a diagram of the building .
Company or department Dress Code
And so on . . .


Policies and Procedures
A second binding would contain policies and procedures available to each employee but they do not need to be published and passed out. All supervisors would have a set at their desk to guide him/her, and multiple copies would be available at HR. Best practice would be to place each policy on line, not only to save publication costs and to provide ready access to all employees, but to allow HR to update, modify, and delete policies as the need arises without having to re-distribute paper copies.

Below listed are core topics that a Company should include:

Attendance policy.
Sick leave and vacation policy.
Open door policy.
Non discrimination policy.
Sexual Harassment Reporting Policy.
Protecting Intellectual property.
Policy prohibiting weapons on company property.
Non solicitation policy ( prohibiting employees or guests from trying to sell goods or services on company premises).
Benefits Section.
Disciplinary policy.
And so on . . .

Policies to draft with care.
Vacation accrual: A significant percentage of employees like to “bank” sick leave or vacation days and trade them in for cash down the road. This undercuts the purpose of vacation and sick leave – to refresh employees and to ensure they stay home when sick. The answer is to stop the accrual after 2x the yearly accrual. For example.
“Each employee receives ten days of vacation a year. Some years an employee may not be able to take all of the vacation he has accrued. An employee may carry over unused vacation days up to a maximum of 20 days. At that point no new vacation days will accrue until after one or more banked vacation days are used”.

At Will Clause. Wrongful termination actions based on policies and procedures can be eliminated in Utah by including this or a similar statement in the Handbook and policy binder.
“No policy, no procedure, and no statement made by a manager will constitute a binding contract or agreement between the employee and the company. An employee remains at will throughout his employment.

An agreement is only binding on the Company if it is spelled out in a document and signed by senior management.”

Policies and statements to avoid.
Lay off principle. You need to develop a layoff policy based on the needs of the company with respect to a “particular layoff.” In other words, do not commit yourself today to something that might not work five years later.
Rose-colored descriptions of the company‘s treatment of employees. “ We are the best, we treat all employees with the utmost integrity, you are our greatest asset and so on”. Plaintiff lawyers seize on these implied promises. Second, the person reading these statements is already an employee. He will only value actions, not statements.