Employers: Ignore Your Employee Handbook at Your Own Risk

New York City (July 6, 2022) – While not the most glamorous of HR tasks, the ever-evolving legal landscape and rise of hybrid and remote work have dramatically increased the importance of employee handbooks to company operations, according to Melissa Silver. Silver is the senior legal editor of policy solutions for XpertHR®, an HR strategy, compliance and data provider.

Download XpertHR’s How Does Your Employee Handbook Process Stack Up? Report

“There is no law that requires an employer to have an employee handbook. However, there are compliance and engagement risks if employers do not give their employee handbook the attention it deserves,” she said. “Employers must continually revisit their handbook practices for efficiencies in processes and practices to remain competitive.”

XpertHR’s Quick Takes on Employee Handbooks
Silver referred to How Does Your Employee Handbook Process Stack Up?, a new report published today that details the challenges and opportunities surrounding employee handbooks. Based on data from XpertHR’s 2022 Employee Handbook survey, the report offers a glimpse—and actionable insights—into the largely thankless task of keeping employee handbooks current.

A Herculean Effort
The effort HR professionals expend to maintain compliance against constantly evolving legislation—laws surrounding equal pay, sexual harassment, family and medical leave, and discrimination protections, to name a few—is significant. Thirty-seven percent of employers spend one to three weeks making updates to their handbooks.

This could be one reason employee handbooks are updated less frequently than Silver says is prudent. While just over half (51%) of respondents update their handbooks on an as-needed basis, 49% update every six months or less. According to her, this creates a host of potential liability issues.

“For example, if a law passes that requires a policy go in an employee handbook, waiting until the end of the year to add it to a handbook could result in liability,” she said.

Managing liability and risk has become especially important as the popularity of hybrid and remote work grows in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. XpertHR data indicate 72% of employers will offer hybrid work and 43% will move to fully remote positions after the pandemic.

“The increase in remote workers means that more companies have employees spread across multiple jurisdictions, some where they had no previous presence. It makes maintaining compliance with local and state laws that much harder,” Silver continued. “That’s why XpertHR’s new employee handbook tool, Aptifore, is such a game-changer.”

The first-of-its kind XpertHR solution, Aptifore, combines an extensive, current database of federal, state and local employment laws with an unrivaled selection of multi-jurisdictional policies. It allows customers to build custom handbooks, while personalized, “push notification” alerts support ongoing compliance as legislation changes.

“For example, Aptifore will help identify what policies apply to an employer based on the jurisdictions in which they have employees and/or a physical presence,” explained Silver.

Other features and benefits of the platform include:

  • Intelligent technology to support the continuous maintenance of compliant handbooks.
  • Ongoing, automated, personalized alerts and insights to support proactive handbook policy updates.
  • Access to best-in-class handbook policy templates across federal, state and key localities.
  • Comprehensive guidance, additional legislative tracking, compliance training and best practices (when combined with XpertHR’s full suite of risk and compliance solutions).  
  • Deep subject matter expertise and unique insights to support industry and organization benchmarking.
  • Strong reputation for innovative, secure and data-driven products from the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group.

Silver acknowledged that employees don’t typically crack open their handbook until it is needed—but, she contended, how organizations create and update employee handbooks can set the organization and its employees up for success.

“HR, talent management and people professionals know the importance of a good handbook and how it can be a key compliance and educational tool for employees, help address employee concerns, and limit possible litigation. To get the most value out of it, it’s critical to stay on top of emerging workplace trends and adapt the employee handbook accordingly,” she concluded.

Survey Note:
XpertHR’s Employee Handbook Survey 2022 was conducted from Feb 22 to March 18, 2022. The survey included responses from 366 U.S. employers of various industries and workforce sizes, representing over 460,000 workers. The survey report explores the critical subject of employee handbooks, such as preparation, distribution, approaches to multi-jurisdictional compliance, challenges, resources and more.

About XpertHR:
XpertHR has been providing HR solutions since 2002, empowering organizations across the globe to build successful workforces and create a purposeful workplace for all. The platform delivers expert insight, trusted resources, data analysis and practical tools to help achieve greater efficiency, reduce risk and increase employee engagement. XpertHR is developing smarter data analysis tools and cutting-edge technology to support future demands on HR in an increasingly digital world. To learn more, visit xperthr.com.

Media Contact:
Lauren Doyle
[email protected]