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Should Companies Always Follow Their Employee Handbook?

Jun 13, 2023

True or False: Companies should ALWAYS follow the employee handbook because the policies should be applied equally to all employees no matter the circumstances.

Is the above sentence true or false?

Most managers and employers take the following position: Companies must consistently follow the handbook at all times, because to do otherwise may suggest favoritism or unfair treatment or discrimination. 

It might come as a surprise to some managers and employers that the handbook (depending on the language) should not always be followed in every situation. 

Here is the problem— Does your management team know when to follow the handbook and when to ask questions to get more information for context?

Here are a few examples:

  1. The company has a “no overtime allowed” policy, but an employee works overtime anyway. The manager  fires the employee for violating policy.
  2. An employee needs time off to recover from complications after child birth, but is all out of PTO per the handbook. The company terminates the employee when the employee doesn’t return to work.
  3. The company has a strict no drug use policy, but the employee is suffering from drug addiction and is seeking treatment.

There are different federal and state laws implicated in these examples. These are more of the “common” employment laws, and companies are sued every day for violating these laws. If your management team is blindly following the employee handbook, and doesn’t know what employment laws might trigger an obligation on the company to ask questions, to take action, or to refrain from taking action, the company will likely get into trouble.

Train Your Management Team on Employment Laws

This is why I always recommend training your employees, managers and C Suite executives on the employment laws. The don’t need to become experts in the law, but they need to know the basics so they can consult with the correct person if a similar issue arises. 

Are you confident your managers now how to address these situations?

We create customized HR/employment law training programs for managers and C Suite executives. We can appear in person or live by zoom. Make sure to take the preventative steps to prepare your management team for success and don’t wait until there is a lawsuit that could substantially affect your bottom line.

Visit and let me know how we can help.

The Wannos Law Firm, P.A. provides legal advice to Florida businesses. Karly Wannos is a workplace investigator for claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, Florida employment law mediator and provides training to businesses on employment laws. 

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