Steven Cesare, Ph.D.
As part of a recent Harvest Group webinar, I offered to review attendees’ employee handbooks, hoping to provide a fresh perspective to those organizations who have likely become desensitized to the myriad subtleties within their employee handbooks, that when left unchecked can often lead to grievances, litigation, and penalties.
While the general topic of employee handbooks is well beyond the scope of this blog posting, I want to share some striking observations that startled me as part of those reviews.
First and foremost, bar none, the most important administrative policy that a company can have is the At-will Policy. Incontrovertibly, it is the policy cornerstone. Despite that pivotal significance, several employee handbooks did not even have an At-will Policy. Amazing!
“Yes,” I reviewed those employee handbooks twice just to make sure I did not skip over it accidentally the first time. True to form: No false negatives were evident, the At-will Policy was indeed missing. Amazing!
Next, beyond that fatal omission, I was also surprised to see how many At-will Policy statements were wrong, incomplete, or even self-defeating. To remedy that serious error, I thought it prudent to share a legal At-will Policy statement that you may want to include in your Employee Handbook:
“Employment with the Company is on an “at-will” basis. This means the employment relationship is for an unspecified period of time and may be terminated at-will at any time, either by the employee or the Company for no reason or for any reason not expressly prohibited by law. This at-will employment relationship includes the right to discipline, demote, or transfer an employee with or without advance notice. No manager, supervisor, or employee of the Company has any authority to enter into an agreement for employment for any specified period of time or to make an agreement for employment other than at-will. Only the Company President has the authority to make any such agreement and then only in writing. This represents an integrated agreement with respect to the at-will nature of the employment relationship.”
By the same token, please make sure that the following statement is NOT included in any form within your company Employee Handbook:
“I further agree that the at-will employment relationship cannot be amended, modified, or altered in any way.”
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