Steven Cesare, Ph.D.


A business owner from New Hampshire called me the other day to discuss revising her Employee Handbook in anticipation of her field workforce returning from their snow season-induced winter layoff, to begin the landscape season. This is a standard request; albeit a little close to the employees’ imminent arrival date, reboarding process, and distribution of the employee handbook.

Not to worry: We took care of it.

In keeping with common protocol, most business owners will send an outdated employee handbook to me as a precursor to the new version, in the hope that such antiquated policies will provide contextual and procedural guidance to me. Parenthetically, all companies should review their employee handbooks in November, revise them in December, and redistribute them to all employees in January or as soon as practical (i.e., snow season reemployment), every year.

Every year.

An initial assessment typically focuses on the inclusion of the following key administrative policies in an employee handbook. The breadth and depth with which each of these policies is presented, adds definitive defensibility against various types of litigation.

1) At-will
2) Desk and Locker Inspection
3) Information Technology
4) Immigration
5) Pregnancy Disability/FMLA
6) Leaves of Absence
7) Safety
8) Social Media
9) Workplace Violence Prevention
10) Drug and Alcohol
11) EEO
12) Anti-Harassment
13) Anti-Retaliation
14) ADA/Interactive Process
15) Exempt Employees’ Payroll Deductions
16) Problem Solving Process
17) FLSA Exemption Status
18) Meal Period/Rest Breaks
19) Reference Requests
20) Confidentiality
21) Revise, Modify, Supplement, and Rescind Policies
22) Benefits Disclaimer
23) Conduct Guidelines
24) Workweek
25) Vacation/PTO/Sick Leave

Due in large measure to the recent Stericycle decision meted by the National Labor Relations Board, a large number of companies have prudently revised their employee handbooks during the past six months to thwart potential claims of omission, negligence, and contractual implications.

A similar line of reasoning applies to the above-mentioned policies that can determine the utility of the employee handbook to the company culture, employment practices liability insurance coverage, and procedural justice; all of which can determine the company’s legal vulnerability or confidence.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.