The Importance of a Well Written, Legally Compliant Employee Handbook

by Jeffrey Cavignac, CPCU, ARM, RPLU, CRIS, MLIS - President, Cavignac & Associates
One of the major exposures facing business owners today is employment related litigation brought by employees against the employer.  Allegations range from wrongful termination, to sexual harassment, to not getting a lunch break.  While many of these claims are frivolous, the cost to defend even a laughable allegation can be significant.While you can do everything right and still get sued, a well-run firm will proactively manage this risk.  The foundation of risk management when it comes to employment-related claims is your Employee Handbook.

Using an employee handbook to provide information and guidelines for employees is a “best practice.” It will probably not shock you to hear though that the policies in the handbook are governed by numerous rules and regulations. If you get sued and your handbook is not compliant or misstates your policies, it will make a bad situation worse!

So how compliant is your Employee Handbook? When was the last time it was updated? When was the last time you looked at it?  When was the last time you had an employment attorney review it?

I’m lucky, I have Sandee. Sandee is our HR Director, and has been working as an HR professional for over 30 years. Sandee knows her stuff.

Once a year she updates the handbook to be compliant with any recent changes.  She consults with our employment attorney if she has any questions. She requests that I review it every year (which I actually do), and then Sandee and I introduce any changes in the handbook at a monthly staff meeting.  We also use that opportunity to discuss existing aspects of the handbook we feel our staff needs to be update on.

Our handbook is posted on our company intranet and we endeavor to keep it current.  It is always available to employees and can be printed out at any time.

Making certain your employee handbook is legally compliant and reflective of the policies you actually follow is not only good business it is a significant step in managing your risk for employment related claims.

Cavignac & Associates provides clients with assistance in this area and can:

  • Provide resources that your HR professional can use to develop or update your current handbook
  • Provide a review of your handbook with a summary of recommended edits
  • Update your current handbook
  • Develop a handbook for your company

Please contact Sandee Rugg at if you are interested in handbook assistance.