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Have you updated your employee handbook?

By Jonathan Sweet

In case you haven't noticed, employee handbooks have been getting plenty of attention from regulators, such as the National Labor Relations Board and others.

So if you haven't looked at yours lately, it's probably a good time to consult with an attorney and make sure it's up to snuff.

Here's just a few areas you need to worry about:

  • Social media policy - The National Labor Relations Act ensures that employees have the right to  discuss, wages and other issues, so you need to make sure your policy doesn't ban those discussions on social media. Be clear, not overly broad. The NLRB has struck down several policies under these conditions.
  • Personal business - Earlier this year, the NLRB ruled that company policies against conducting personal business on company property could be seen as violating employees' rights. Again, it's about being specific about what is and is not allowed.
  • Medical marijuana - It's now legal in many states, so if you want to ban it in the workplace (which one would think you would), you may need to explicitly state that as opposed to a blanket statement about illegal drugs
  • E-cigarettes - Many, but not all, municipalities have passed laws treating e-cigs the same as other tobacco products as to their use in the workplace. By the same token, make sure that your policies address their use.
  • Positive work environment - Turns out you can't tell employees to play nice with others. Again, in another NLRB decision, the board ruled that a policy at T-Mobile that defined a positive work environment and communication between employees was restrictive because employees could interpret the policy as restricting discussions of unions and labor issues.

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