As we have noted in prior posts, the job market is expected to improve throughout the year, which means that employers will continue to hire new employees as their needs increase. Because of this, employee handbooks will likely be updated and workers will need to understand how new policies affect them. This post will highlight the most common updates to handbooks in 2016.
Reasonable accommodation – As we alluded to earlier, more employees are expected to be hired this year, and this includes disabled workers. State and federal law require employers to provide reasonable accommodations in certain circumstances to allow workers to perform tasks if they are qualified to perform the essential functions of the job.
Retaliation – Employee handbooks are also being revised to address issues regarding retaliation; especially with regard to witnesses of harassment or discrimination. Since retaliation has been the most common claim brought to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) it can be expected that HR managers are paying attention to the language in these clauses.
Smoking and marijuana use – Indeed, California banned smoking in buildings decades ago. But with the proliferation of e-cigarettes, employers must create clear policies so that electronic cigarettes are treated like other forms of tobacco. Even with laws legalizing the use of marijuana under very limited circumstances, employers still have the right to restrict the use of it. So handbooks are being revised to bar consumption of marijuana at work, and to set conditions on termination based on a positive drug test.
If you have questions about handbook revisions that may affect you as an employee, an experienced attorney can help.