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12 Things to Look for in Your Employee Handbook

by Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP
June 05, 2018
Employment Law

When was the last time you checked to see if your company handbook is up-to-date with current laws and regulations affecting you? If the answer isn’t recently, then it is probably time to review the policies in your employer’s handbook to see if your employer is violating your rights. If an employer fails to adhere to local, state, and federal labor laws, they can end up facing a lawsuit. In this blog, we tell you which 12 areas of your employee handbook you should review to make sure it is compliant with current law.

1. Criminal Record

Some states and cities have started to pass what are known as “ban the box” laws. These types of laws prevent employers from asking a job candidate if they have a criminal history until they offer the candidate a job. As of January 2018, this law applies to any employer in California with more than four employees.

2. Salary History

Cities and states are also passing bills that help employees keep their previous salary history confidential. When employers base their wages on a job candidate’s history of pay, it helps perpetuate the gender pay gap. Under the California Labor Code, employers are not allowed to ask for salary history when a candidate is applying for a job. Employers must also provide a pay range associated with job openings if a candidate asks for one.

3. Remote Employees

More and more businesses are offering their employees the option to perform their job remotely. If you work as a remote employee, make sure your employer’s remote work policy is clearly outlined and compliant with current labor laws. Additionally, make sure you understand how your location (the state you reside in) impacts your rights and the laws to which your employer is held. In many situations, remote employees are subject to the laws of the state in which they work – not the state where the company is based. Understanding these implications can help employees better know and protect their rights.

4. LBGTQIA+ Employees

Even if your state hasn’t passed laws to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identification (California has), you can still file a lawsuit based on nondiscrimination policies contained in your company handbook.

5. E-Cigarette Policies

E-cigarettes continue to grow in popularity, which means any no smoking policies or designated smoking areas should be updated to cover vaping.

6. Maternity & Paternity Leave

Recently, Estée Lauder was sued for discrimination because the company gave new fathers less parental leave time than new mothers. Companies are now changing their leave policies to more clearly distinguish between medical leave (for recovering from childbirth) and parental leave (for bonding with the newborn child).


If you have used up your leave time provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or if the business you work for isn’t large enough to be subject to FMLA, provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) might require your employer to approve your leave to accommodate disabilities like mental health issues.

8. Disaster Planning

When it comes to natural disasters, employees need to know how to safely evacuate the building and how to keep the business operational.

9. Independent Contractors

If you are an independent contractor, check to see if your handbook directly states the differences between independent contractors and regular employees.

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