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It is important for efficient management and good employee relations that an employer have carefully considered and clearly stated personnel policies which are communicated to the staff. A number of personnel policies are affected by various labor laws, both federal and state, and some, such as those affecting fair employment practices, age discrimination and family and medical leave, must be posted. Violations may give rise to claims for back pay, especially if a disgruntled former employee makes a complaint. As a defensive measure as well as a management tool, personnel policies should be written and communicated to employees. Good management also dictates that a single manager, whether a partner or an administrator, be responsible for the interpretation and application of personnel policies. Preparing a complete office manual is now easier than ever before. Software is available which uses an interactive approach to permit users to create their own office manuals. The programs are generally not designed to provide legal advice but frequently do include information on requirements for personnel policies. It should be carefully noted that while not having a written personnel manual opens an employer up to all sorts of lawsuits based on oral statements made to employees, one must be careful about what goes into a manual. Some courts have found that statements in personnel manuals constitute a binding contract between the employer and employee. The manual should include a clear statement indicating that nothing in the manual is intended to be, nor should be construed as, a contract of employment. Nevertheless, the firm must be willing to be bound by its own published standards, procedures and regulations.
Read full excerpt from How to Manage Your Law Office: Personnel Policies and the Employee Handbook.