When employees have questions about workplace policies, an employee handbook should be the go-to resource for basic information and clarity. An employee handbook not only outlines company policies and employee rights, it also lays out the company’s legal obligations, company culture, and overall employee expectations. And, while we always recommend updating your employee handbook on an ongoing basis, it’s highly essential to consider updating policies or creating an addendum amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only has COVID-19 shaken up the workforce for employers in 2020 through a move toward remote work, completely virtual teams, furloughed employees, and even the elimination and creation of existing and new positions, it has also created numerous challenges for employees—especially those with children. So, with such challenges at hand, an updated employee handbook has never been more important.

5 Considerations for Updating Your Employee Handbook During COVID-19

Workplace Safety

From mask mandates to facility modifications to social distancing protocols to in-person meeting procedures to potential quarantine scenarios should an employee test positive for COVID-19, it’s imperative that you address workplace safety updates due to COVID-19 in your employee handbook. As employees will have various views and perspectives on these procedures, having a documented employee policy in your handbook will cover any misconceptions and unclear expectations.

Attendance

Especially for employers moving forward to remote work, office capacity limits, and increased or decreased travel schedules, an update to attendance policies may be necessary. Your employee handbook should clearly outline attendance expectations in order to help employers who can’t monitor attendance remotely in the same way as they could in the office.

Time Off

Taking vacation days, sick days, and paid time off (PTO) might become a bit more challenging for employees who are working from home. To avoid issues with potential burnout or work-life balance, it will be essential for employers to help clearly outline policies for taking time away from work. Additionally, employers with less than 500 employees should make sure employee handbooks and policies include updates about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), especially regarding paid sick leave and expanded family medical leave.

Culture and Values

COVID-19 has, without a doubt, affected the company culture and values of businesses in 2020. Thus, it might be a healthy practice to monitor and implement any necessary changes to your employee handbook’s workplace culture or values section. From communication styles to equal opportunity accommodations to conduct and behavior expectations, the opportunity to be clear, empathetic, and transparent has never been more important.

Benefits

With careful consideration of various health and coverage needs, COVID-19’s impact on health coverage and employee benefits makes it necessary to update the benefits section of your employee handbook. As further developments surrounding COVID-19 are revealed, your policies may need to shift in line with general public health recommendations.

Is It Time for an Employee Handbook Update?

If you need assistance with developing or updating your employee handbook—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—our team is equipped to help. Contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can effectively guide you in creating an employee handbook that will keep you compliant and proactively communicating with your employees regarding workplace policies and procedures.