Tips on Updating Your Employment Manual in the New Year

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As the eagerly awaited 2021 arrives, do you know what updates your employment manual will need in the new year? Let us review some tips to assist you with this.  

In light of recent Supreme Court rulings, you may want to revisit the sexual orientation and gender identity provisions in your employment manual. This summer, while the Supreme Court justices were working remotely, just like everyone else, they ruled that Title XII’s sex discrimination provision applies equally to sexual orientation and gender identity. Accordingly, you should update your employment manual to state your company does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as transgender. Similarly, your anti-harassment policies should be updated to prohibit any harassment based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or status as transgender.

This will include scrutinizing your entire handbook for evidence of gender discrimination, such as dress codes, which apply exclusively to women, or hair guidelines, applying exclusively to men. Anything that promotes an agenda of how a certain gender should appear should be reworded to reflect all employees. 

Your manual should also reflect legislation, such as the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. The FFCRA provides paid leave to private sector workers for Covid-19 quarantine, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as, to care for a child if a school or childcare center is closed due to Covid. You should note this is a temporary act set to expire on December 21, 2020. Due to the fact, the United States appears to be at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, this act, or some version of it, will likely be extended. Thus, this section of the employee manual can be labeled temporary and updated, once further guidance is provided by the government. 

Here are the key provisions of FFCRA, which should be reflected in your employee manual:

  • Employees receive up to two weeks of their regular rate of pay; if ordered into quarantine by a government official, health care provider, or they have symptoms and are seeking a test. Maximum payment is $511 per day or 5,110 total;
  • They can receive up to 2/3 of their pay for up to two weeks, if caring for a family member with Covid or up to twelve weeks, if caring for a child whose school or daycare is closed. Maximum is $200 per day, $2000 and $12,000 maximum, respectively. (employees with less than 50 employees may be exempt for hardship);
  • A part-time employee is entitled to leave for the usual number of hours they would work over a two-week period. 

You may also want to consider updating your remote work policy. As working remotely became the new normal this past year, this is a good time to review your remote work policies, and while you are at it, consider updating your emergency preparedness policies. 

Following these tips to update your employment manual is a smart tool to prevent costly litigation in the future. For more information on effectively updating your employment manual and more, we are your local, experienced, law firm. Do not hesitate to call, chat or click here to contact us today!