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How often should you update your employee manual?

Companies use employee manuals, or employee handbooks, to set out policies and expectations for employees. These manuals come in many forms and can even include interactive web pages. Employees might refer to them when they have questions about vacation policies, the dress code, federal employment law or other issues.

Of course, it is up to each company to decide what it prioritizes including, but no matter what you put in at first, updating your manual is essential. Say that you started your company in 2008, and it grew enough that by 2010, you drew up a handbook. Now it is almost a decade later, and you are still operating under the 2010 manual. Parts of the law have changed, and undoubtedly, so have at least a few of your company policies.

At least once a year

At a minimum, update your handbook at least once a year. For instance, you or your lawyer could review new workplace trends and recent case rulings to determine what you need to change. In rare instances, you may decide that the handbook is fine as it is. In these cases, update it with a note that it is current. For example, if the handbook currently says, "ABC Company Employee Handbook, January 2018," change it to "ABC Company Employee Handbook, July 2018."

Larger or more complicated businesses should try to review their handbooks every six months. An update may be necessary sooner than that if there has been a notable ruling in an area such as discrimination or harassment, especially if it is in the same area, county or city as your business. For example, your company may decide to streamline harassment reporting processes or to spell out more consequences of harassment after a lawsuit involving a competitor is resolved.

Also, if you or others at the company do the updating instead of a law firm, a lawyer should at least review the final product. Many handbooks contain illegal or questionable provisions.

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