Over 1000 handbooks reviewed!!

Over 1000 handbooks reviewed!!

The option of not having a handbook may be a temptation for the employer who knows that the odds of being sued are slim. However, the lack of a handbook provides little protection if the decision-maker’s actions and intentions are challenged in court.

Turn Down the Volume and Simplify the Language

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity…You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”     Steve Jobs[1]

Concise, permissive employee handbook language can keep small business decision-makers in the driver’s seat, take the “Please Sue Me” sign off their backs, and minimize the turnover of good employees.

At the very least, handbook language should do no harm. At the very best, the language should inspire new employees, support management in daily operations, eliminate confusion, ward off lawsuits and provide legal counsel with solid defensible documentation that will stand up to potential legal challenges. Evidence indicates that a company has minimal risk of being charged with illegal discrimination or ending up in court. Though the frequency of legal challenges can be documented, the severity is much less predictable.

The advantages of well-written handbook language in limiting the legal liability outweigh the disadvantages of having nothing in writing or mandatory language that relinquishes control to the court. Given that a particular jurisdiction may take a contractual interpretation of any handbook language, safety lies in writing concise, permissive policy versus voluminous, mandatory procedure. Concise, permissive language can elevate the employee handbook to “user-friendly” status by providing the appropriate balance of desired decision-maker control, defensible legal context and needed communication to employees.

 

[1] Brainy Quotes, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/simplicity_4.html