Business

IS YOUR WORKPLACE FULL OF WALKING H.R. VIOLATIONS?

The Office Dwight BraIs your workplace dominated by Michael Scotts and Dwight Schrutes? Even if the answer is “no,” developing and implementing an employee conduct policy or handbook is a prudent move for any business. While there is no law requiring employers to have an employee handbook, the benefits can be immense. Regardless of the size or complexity of your business, it is wise to set out your work rules and policies in writing. Simply put, it can reduce the risk of employee lawsuits.

A handbook lets you inform your employees about your workplace rules in an efficient and consistent fashion. Your employees will know what is expected of them and what they can expect of you. You will be able to prove that all employees were aware of the rules if an employee later decides to challenge you in court. An employee handbook is also an expression of the corporate culture of a business. For example, Google’s Code of Conduct begins with the following simple but effective statement: “Don’t be evil.” Michael Scott and Dunder Mifflin could certainly learn a few things from this statement! Many professional sports teams like the Vancouver Canucks have a “Fan Code of Conduct.”

An employee handbook can provide your company with valuable legal protections. The handbook provides you with a great tool to collect policies that must be in writing, such as policies on confidentiality, conflicts of interest, smoking, drug testing, or family and medical leave. Every organization should evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of developing and incorporating an employee handbook. In general, the benefits tend to outweigh the drawbacks. In my experience, most of the downside can come from an employee handbook that is poorly drafted which may contain conflicting policies, omissions of policies or inaccurate information.

The following is a summary of the advantages of having a well-drafted employee handbook:

  • Serves as a tool to communicate important policies. Together with a signed employee handbook acknowledgement shows the employer communicated and had a uniform distribution of all policies to each employee.
  • Helps make enforcement and discipline easier by referring to the employee handbook.
  • Reduces time spent on answering general company related questions.
  • Outlines performance expectations, rights and responsibilities for your employees and creates common expectations between the employee and employer.
  • Reduces employee lawsuits when an employer distributes the employee handbook to all employees and applies consistent treatment to all employees by following their own policies.

An employee handbook introduces a new employee to the company and its corporate culture on a positive note. A welcome statement, the history of the company and the company mission can powerfully connect a new employee to your business. It’s a great way to set the tone immediately at the beginning of the relationship. Additionally, an employee handbook can promote a sense of fairness and integrity on the part of the company. Just make sure the handbook is well drafted and reviewed by a lawyer with expertise in labour and employment law. Michael Scott types should be kept as far away from this process as possible!

With this in mind, C2K Law Corporation provides timely legal advice in relation to all types of corporate/commercial and business law matters. We strive to deliver an affordable, value-added service to suit your individual needs. We recognize that you are concerned about the costs of legal services. We do our best to provide a low cost value added service by leveraging technology and reducing overhead expenses passing the savings on to you. We use our entrepreneurship in our creative problem-solving approach, which enables us to take immediate and decisive action. Call 604.719.5122 or email us at bal@c2klaw.com for a complimentary consultation.

*The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
© Bal Bhullar, President, C2K Law Corporation.

Bal Bhullar
Bal Bhullar is a corporate/commercial lawyer who owns and operates C2K Law Corporation. Bal has over 20 years of international and domestic practice experience. He has worked in private practice in Vancouver and Bermuda as well as in-house with public and private companies in the mining, aviation, telecom and technology, construction, oil and propane, insurance, management consulting and health care industries. Bal's areas of expertise include corporate finance, banking law, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate restructurings, governance and compliance, company law, contracts and all types of commercial transactions. Bal is the member of the Law Society of B.C. and is admitted as a Barrister and Attorney in Bermuda. Bal is a business savvy lawyer who is solutions oriented and focused on delivering high value advice and service to all of his clients.
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