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Actively avoid litigation by updating an employee handbook

Though most employees don't realize it, employee handbooks may be the cornerstone of an employer-employee relationship in many job fields. Not only do they outline an employer's expectations for employee conduct, they also notify employees about what they will be held accountable for as well as some of their protections under the law.

While drafting a clear and well-thought-out employee handbook is incredibly important, it's just as important for business owners to keep these documents up to date. Changes to state and federal labor and employment laws are not unheard of. And if an employer fails to account for these changes in their employee handbooks, they could find themselves facing litigation for violating the law.

Five important updates to make to any employee handbook

  1. Terms of employment. It's always a good idea to make sure that employees are well aware of the fact that Florida is an at-will employer and that the definition of this term is easy to understand. The clarity of the definition could play a major role in potential wrongful termination allegations.
  2. Wage and hour laws. To avoid issues concerning minimum wage, overtime and improper deductions, it's a good idea for employers to review the wage and hours section of their employee handbooks. This may help reduce the risk of litigation due to unpaid wage claims or the likes.
  3. Reasonable accommodations at work. By law, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees in certain circumstances. By making it clear when accommodations can be requested and in what form they will take, employers can mitigate the risk of facing a discrimination lawsuit from an employee.
  4. Leave benefits. It's not uncommon to see changes made to state or federal laws regarding leave benefits, which is why it's important for employers to account for these changes as soon as possible. Failing to address a change can result in a costly lawsuit.
  5. Changes to the law that affect company policy. With a medical marijuana bill on the November ballot in Florida as well as recent federal law changes to benefit offerings for members of the LGBT community, employers in our state should update company policies that would otherwise conflict with or violate the law. Failing to do so could create legal issues that may lead to costly litigation.

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