As the nature of the contemporary workplace evolves, your policies must reflect the changing times. With the rise of remote work, digital tools, and new regulations, there are many key changes to consider for your 2023 employee handbook.
An employee handbook is an essential tool for any organization. It sets out the expectations, terms, and conditions of employment while reducing potential legal risks. This document should not be overlooked if you want to ensure compliance with government regulations.
No matter how comprehensive your current employee handbook is, it can become outdated quickly due to changes in the law and the world. Therefore, employers should ensure that their handbook covers all the essential policies, as well as any new developments in their workplace. This will guarantee your employee handbook is up-to-date and compliant in 2023.
Changes in Work Time Policies
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a dramatic shift in workplace dynamics. No longer satisfied with the traditional 9-to-5 workday model, modern employees are increasingly opting for flexible working hours. This has made way for the emergence of remote work, hybrid work, and flexible work hours.
To ensure the successful management of these new work structures, businesses need to implement sound policies. This would include key points, such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Which employees are eligible
- Attendance expectations
- How time off and breaks are tracked
- How overtime is compensated
Having such a policy in place ensures everyone is on the same page and enables operations to remain smooth.
Communicable Disease Policies
During the Covid 19 pandemic, many companies introduced protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. These included rules around staying home if unwell, wearing masks, getting vaccinated, maintaining social distancing, and having regular tests conducted.
Companies should reevaluate their existing policies and update them so that they are not only applicable to the Covid pandemic but any potential future communicable disease or virus. This will help ensure that businesses are well-equipped to handle such occurrences with minimal disruption.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Incorporating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) mission statement in the employee handbook sends a strong statement to employees that the company is committed to DEI. If that seems too bold, consider using the word “employee” and “they/them” throughout the handbook instead of gender-specific pronouns.
Pay close attention to any company leave policies and make sure they are not exclusive. Providing additional medical benefits when an employee gives birth may lead to discrimination cases from other staff members who have medical issues unrelated to childbirth that require them to miss work.
Offering a paid medical leave benefit regardless of the reason is not only more equitable but also provides cover for more scenarios. This should be prioritized over only providing it for childbirth-related issues.
Progressively, companies are shifting from “maternity” leave to “parental” or “caregiver” leave for bonding with a child. This type of benefit should also be available to families who adopt, use surrogacy, or foster care when growing their family- not just those who experience childbirth.
Security and Privacy Protection Policies
To ensure a safe and secure work environment, employers should regularly update their security policies and procedures for both in-office and remote workers. They should also update their social media policies to further protect confidential information and address any potential privacy concerns.
Ensure Employee Handbook Compliance
It’s no good having an employee handbook if employees don’t know what it is or how to access it. To make sure everyone knows where to find the handbook, you should have an electronic version with embedded hyperlinks for swift navigation.
These can include links for applying for benefits, emails for contacts, and links to other related policies. Rather than relying on hardcopy employee handbooks, organizations now have the ability to keep policies up-to-date electronically. This makes it easier for them to make amendments quickly, without having to print out and distribute new versions.
It is essential to review and update employee handbooks with legal counsel every year in order to stay up to date with the ever-evolving work environment, pertinent laws and regulations, and also promote fairness and inclusivity throughout the organization. This process helps establish a strong company culture.