Beware the FRANKENSTEIN Employee Handbook!
10.15.2019 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.
It’s nearly Halloween. Have you heard the curse of the “Frankenstein Employee Handbook”? I have and I have seen many with my own eyes. Gather round as I tell you about this abomination that causes legal and personnel woe wherever it is found:
It all starts when a well-intentioned Executive Director/Pastor/Nonprofit Board member needs an employee handbook and they turn to magic – the magic of the internet. With a few short clicks of the keyboard, they find hundreds of examples from all different lands and companies. The well-intentioned Executive Director/Pastor/Nonprofit Board member takes these magical examples and sets to work “cutting and pasting” policies, creating their masterpiece. The well-intentioned Executive Director/Pastor/Nonprofit Board member finalizes and submits their newly created employee handbook for approval and meets resounding cheers of glee, after all it was completed for free! Yet, the well-intentioned Executive Director/Pastor/Nonprofit Board member does not realize they have created a monster. Leave policies written to reflect Georgia law (not Minnesota), no mention of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Safe and Sick Leave Ordinances, and inaccurate policies regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act Exemptions. Aaaaahhhhhhhhh! They do not realize the dark fate that soon awaits them in the form of expensive employment law related lawsuits, administrative investigations, fines, hefty legal fees, and a bad public image.
In all seriousness, there are a lot of organizations out there with bad employee handbooks, including ones with those like I depicted in my scary story. Here’s the takeaway: it is really important to invest in a good employee handbook for your organization, specific to your organization and legal jurisdiction(s). The legal consequences for violating or not following employment laws are real and significant.