Guest Column | June 28, 2013

Legally Speaking: Policy And Procedure Update

By: Bob Goldberg, RSPA General Counsel

You have implemented an employee policy and procedure manual, checked it off your “to-do list” and now have not looked at it again. The very document that was created to protect you in employment matters can quickly become a liability if not regularly reviewed and updated. Let’s consider some of these policies and current requirements.

Several jurisdictions now require that sick leave be paid sick leave (Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.). If this has occurred in your area, your manual should be revised to reflect this requirement. If you have multiple locations, then your manual should make the sick leave policy subject to applicable regulations for the requirements may differ. Regardless, it is often a best practice to have uniform policies throughout the organization and make the company policy equal to the most stringent requirement within the states or jurisdictions you operate.

Many companies have policies that establish a maximum amount of time one can be on leave. The limitation makes sense, for it is often difficult to keep a position open for an extended period of time or have others cover during the absence. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken a dim view of maximum leave policies feeling that they may not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Given the EEOC’s zeal for challenging employers’ maximum leave policies (e.g., those stating that employees will be terminated after six months on leave), employers would be wise to eliminate such policies or to revise them to add language inviting employees on leave to request a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other applicable laws. Moreover, employers who maintain maximum leave policies should communicate with employees nearing the end of their allowable leave to invite them to submit a request for an accommodation.

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