When to Update Employee Handbooks and HR Policies in Iowa

And why to consider an employment attorney when doing so

By Super Lawyers staff | Last updated on February 24, 2023

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A company’s employee handbook or formalized human resource (HR) policies play an essential role in business operations and employment relationship. These documents serve as a guide for work rules and employment policies. A well-crafted employee handbook can help you limit issues in the free workplace and improve job performance. Employers should review and, if necessary, revise their employee handbook on a regular basis. Here, you will find an overview of the four main reasons why companies and organizations in Iowa need an updated employee handbook and HR policies.

Four Reasons Why Every Company Needs a Fully Updated Handbook and/or HR Policies

If a business or organization is operating with an outdated employee handbooks and evaluations, major problems can arise. Both the employer and its employees may be vulnerable. Here are four key reasons why employers in Iowa should update their handbook and/or HR policies regularly:

Legal Changes

An employee handbook should be fully consistent with federal laws, including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), or national origin.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets the federal minimum wage, overtime for nonexempt employees who work over 40 hours per workweek, and other matters.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees to take unpaid leave for various medical and family member situations.
  • Iowa state laws, including the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which reflects federal anti-discrimination law in prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of various classifications.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many more labor & employment regulations on the books that address all aspects of the employment relationship: health insurance, leaves of absence, sick leave, military leave, collective bargaining agreements, sexual harassment, workers’ compensation, work schedules, layoffs, wrongful termination, background checks, and much more. These state and local laws can and do change. It is crucial that your company’s handbook and HR policies are fully compliant for eligible employees.

Cultural Changes

Beyond legal changes, the general culture and work environment also changes. The best practices of three decades ago may not be applicable. As an example, a seemingly simple thing like a dress code can grow outdated over time.

Company Changes

An employee handbook should be updated to reflect any changes to the company. This is essential because many state and federal employment laws only apply to employers of a certain size. When a company grows, it may face different labor and employment law requirements.

Technology Changes

Finally, it is important to note that technology in the workplace is fast-changing. Make sure that your company’s employee handbook and HR policies consider technology. For instance, many companies have expanded their use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing over the last year. An employee handbook may need to be updated to address these technological changes.

It is a best practice for employers to review (and, if needed, revise) their employee handbook and HR policies on an annual basis. Additionally, there should be a review when there are significant changes—such as a new law or a major change to the company’s day-to-day operations.

An Employment Attorney Will Ensure Your Employee Handbook Protects Your Company

Drafting an effective employee handbook is a complicated task. There are a number of different potential pitfalls that a company or organization can run into, such as a harassment policy, disability insurance and any available employee assistance programs. An employment attorney will ensure that your company’s handbook is fully updated and properly crafted. If you have any questions about updating an employee handbook and/or HR policies, contact an experienced Iowa employment & labor attorney for immediate assistance.

Get more information about employment and labor law.

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