Why Your Employee Handbook and Benefits Must Align
When it comes to your dental, optometry, or other medical practice, there are very few things more important than your employee handbook. This forms the baseline for how you operate your business. It reflects your values and acts as a guide for your employees who want to know what to expect while working at your practice. Of course, your employee handbook — and the handbook policies it sets — is additionally a defensive document. It lays out how your practice manages issues with team members and ensures employees know what behaviors won't be tolerated.
However, as important as your employee handbook can be, some practices fail to update this vital document on a regular basis. This can create a problem. If you don’t update your handbook to reflect current benefits and recent legal changes, you may be setting yourself up for a legal conflict, or a situation in which your employees demand benefits that you no longer offer. Here's more information on updating your handbook, including why it's so important.
What About Matching Current Benefits in Your Employee Handbook?
Imagine this scenario: Your handbook policies say one thing, but your current benefits are something else. A disgruntled employee may demand the "better" of the two, which can lead to conflict with other employees over the reality in your practice and what your handbook says.
This can be a relatively minor issue, like a vacation day. It can also be something far more significant, such as a benefit your dental, optometry, or medical practice stopped offering a long time ago. There are also more problematic scenarios to consider. For example, what happens if there's a major, expensive benefit in your handbook that's no longer offered? Your employees may band together and demand the benefit — or a cash equivalent — and threaten legal action otherwise.
Remember, if something is in writing, there's potentially a legal right to it. That creates a huge expectation challenge within your practice.
Are There Potential Legal Issues?
In addition to the scenario above, there are more problematic issues to consider if your policies don't match your employee handbook. For example, imagine a scenario in which your state has added a new non-discrimination protection concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. Let's say you fail to update your handbook to note your company's compliance with the law and lay out the steps you'll take in the event of alleged discrimination. Next, let's say you have an LGBTQ employee who alleges discrimination or harassment by a manager or another member of your team. In this situation, the lack of a protective statement that describes how your practice will manage such issues may come back to bite you.
Your handbook must keep benefits updated, but it should also make value statements and note your general compliance with all relevant and necessary laws. This can be helpful if there is ever an allegation that you're violating some law or failing to adhere to appropriate employee practices. To that end, make sure you're using a comprehensive service like HR for Health. We regularly check all employee-related laws at the state and federal levels, and we can make sure the policies in your employee handbook are up to date.
How Can You Track Benefit Usage Or Investigate Complaints?
It's vitally important to track benefit usage and other updates to handbook policies. You must also explain how this information will be tracked and made accessible to employees. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. One such example is via our cloud-based documentation storage. You can store them safely and securely in a manner that will be easily accessible to you, your team members, and any appropriate managers. Doing so can eliminate discrepancies and ensure that the handbook policies you create are adhered to.
You can also use this document storage to house information related to employee complaints about handbook policy violations. Doing so can demonstrate how you're dealing with potentially serious issues, and protect your practice from allegations that you're not following stated policies.
Finally, make sure that you also use the benefits tracking feature offered by HR for Health in order to easily track and maintain accurate balances of hours that have been accrued by each employee. This way, you’ll always have up-to-date records of benefit usage by your team members.
How Can You Communicate and Track Updates to Your Handbook Policies?
It's always best to have a separate set of eyes to review your employee handbook, alert you to potential legal issues, and make sure your handbook policies are as up-to-date as possible. At HR for Health, we do just that: We can provide you with an updated handbook customized to your practice that reflects current laws. It will also be up-to-date and synchronized with all the benefits you offer and any additional unique policies you may have.
Furthermore, we ensure that you can track all changes and communicate these changes with your employees. We can help guide you on how to approach the memo or communications piece to be certain your employees get the updated handbook, and with our robust software, you can send the handbook to your team members electronically and also store acknowledgments with date/time stamps that prove they received the updated handbook.
How HR for Health Can Help
At HR for Health, we understand the importance of an updated employee handbook and making sure your handbook policies are up to date. We can help you craft a customized handbook that fits your needs and works in collaboration with HR specialists. We can also help you maintain all documents and track benefits offerings such as PTO/Vacation/Paid Sick Leave/etc..
Want more information on how HR for Health can help? Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation, and learn more about how we can help your business thrive.