How Often Should Your Employee Manual Be Updated?

employee manualAn employee manual is often reviewed during a new hire’s orientation and then rarely discussed again. However, employers should not underestimate the value of maintaining this company handbook.

Keeping the employee manual updated is essential in ensuring your employees are well-informed of your policies and procedures.

If your employee manual isn’t updated to reflect necessary changes each year, it can place your business at risk for litigation.

Update Your Manual to Reflect How the World has Changed

Companies should review their employee manual annually to reflect society’s changes.

Consider how the world has changed in the past year to determine if any policies are now outdated or if any new procedures need to be added.

Also, employee manuals need to keep up with technological advances.

A company who hasn’t updated their manual in the last 10 years isn’t likely to have a social media policy. If a company hasn’t updated their manual in the last five years they aren’t likely to have a policy on the use of smart phones during company time.

Changes in social norms may require changes to the employee manual as well.

For example, employee’s attire may change as new fashion trends emerge. Employers may need to narrow their definition of “business casual” or may need to include new policies about what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Update Your Employee Manual to Reflect Company Changes

If your company has made any major changes to policies and procedures over the past year, it’s important to update the employee manual to reflect this.

There’s no need to wait until the previously scheduled annual review date. Instead, reflect those changes immediately.

Perhaps your company has encountered a breastfeeding mother for the first time.

You may decide that your old policy just isn’t adequate and you’ve developed a new policy to better meet everyone’s needs. The policy change should be updated in the handbook.

Update Your Employee Manual When Laws Change

Local, state, and federal requirements can change at any time.

Update your manual whenever laws change to ensure that you are in compliance. If you wait until a problem arises to update your employee manual, it'll likely be too late.

Educate yourself on changes in the law and how these changes will impact your business. Keeping your manual updated to reflect these changes is essential in protecting your business from litigation.

Although there is a lot of legal jargon that needs to be included in your employee manual, it is important that you’re able to word each policy in a manner that your employees can understand.

Key Areas to Focus on Updating

  • Policies regarding accommodation of disabilities are a key area that should be updated at least annually. The definition of disability sometimes changes and the laws about accommodations change often as well.
  • Equal employment and nondiscrimination policies also should be updated frequently if your business is required to have one. Local, state, and federal laws sometimes change regarding who is included under this policy.
  • Family medical leave policies also should be updated regularly.
  • Some businesses are only required to follow the federal government’s Family Medical Leave Act, however, many states have additional policies for unpaid leave. It’s important to stay informed about any changes in this area.

In addition to protecting your company from litigation, your employee manual is likely to say a lot about the culture of your business.

Keeping your employee manual up to date is essential to the well-being of your company.

About the Author: Amy Morin writes about psychology, business and various news articles on the web.