August 30, 2016

Avoid at All Costs: Top 10 Policies You SHOULDN’T Have

Did you catch our recent post about 10 policies your employee handbook definitely should include? To keep things balanced, here’s another installment in our “Top 10” series: a list of Top 10 Policies You SHOULDN’T Have in your employee handbook.

If you find any of these policies, or their close cousins, in your handbook, STOP USING THEM IMMEDIATELY and seek assistance to quietly fix them.

10. Your right to privacy is respected.
9.  Pregnant employees may continue to work so long as it does not affect your health, or the health of your baby.
8. All employees are expected to be respectful and courteous to coworkers, management, and our patients at all times.
7. If a seminar falls on a non-work day (Saturday or Sunday), you will not receive pay for that day. If it falls on a normal workday, you will be paid your daily rate.
6. Upon quitting or termination, you must return all company property prior to receiving your final paycheck.
5. All practice matters, including information about the doctor, management or patients, are confidential.
4. Gossiping is strictly forbidden.
3. Unauthorized overtime will not be paid.
2. Employees may not post negative or defamatory remarks about the company, doctor, management or coworkers online or on social media.
1. Salary information is strictly confidential, and should not be discussed with other employees or unauthorized persons, on or off the job.

So how did you do? Do any of them seem familiar?

With the average cost of litigation and settlement around $125k, the last thing you want is to be informed about an illegal policy by an employee – or worse, by an employee’s attorney. Our recommendation is that you clean up any of these bad policies before they come back to bite you.

Have a policy or HR question? If you’re a practice owner or manager at an independent healthcare practice, you’re welcome to contact us for a complimentary answer. Just call 866-414-6056 or email today.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature, and is not intended to replace good counsel about a specific issue with either your attorney or your favorite HR expert.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.


    • Paul EdwardsPaul Edwards says

      Hi Maren- Regarding “respect for privacy.” The short answer, let’s say an employer needs to fire an employee for something like embezzlement or sexual harassment. The likelihood that they will find supporting evidence of those things within their own computer systems is high. Also, consider that when I say computer systems, it needs to be a broad stroke policy which also includes company-owned portable devices and a myriad of other ways and methods that employees might use to communicate. In many instances, the offender’s own words or actions can be caught within those systems. We’ve seen one of our members be able to ferret out an actual confession of theft within the employee’s personal email. (they were bragging to the person who sold the thing they were stealing.) That email was accessed on the system. Her lawyer argued that the “evidence” could not be used. He lost that argument because the employer had a very clear no expectation of privacy policy. While we don’t think it’s a great idea to be constantly monitoring peoples communications and emails, when the time comes, if you need it, you need to be able to use what you find during an investigation or to be able to give the authorities. “We respect your privacy” creates a legal barrier and expectation of privacy that should not be there. There have been several court cases that support the premise that you need to be straight up honest with your employees about the amount of privacy they have when on company systems if you want to remove the “expectation of privacy” argument.

      Regarding the policy on respect. This one is a little more esoteric and for me falls under the “if you are going to have a policy about communicating with respect, just make sure it can do no harm.” The National Labor Relation Act which is enforced by a board, says that employers may not put in place policies or practices which would prevent employees from communicating with each other or MANAGEMENT about their wages, benefits, or working conditions. As such, the board has said that policies such as the one we posted may chill an employee’s rights to the discussions I outlined. What they are saying is that if an employee walks in and “disrespectfully”, informs a member of management that something is unsafe, wages are not being properly paid, or that workers are not being treated properly (limited examples)- they may use any language they wish to use and the employer can not fire them for the language. The policy, as written, is considered to be too broad by the board. Note: At this time the board has walked this guidance back a smidge but frankly, as soon as the political climate changes, this will be back. Therefore, we are not saying you can not have a policy about respectful and professional communication in front of patients/customers and may even bring in location (in front of patients). But the policy we posted, which is very common, lumps in “management” and is too broad. It’s a simple thing to fix but can be very damning if the NLRB shows up, and they do. It’s a great example of a common sense policy which can cause harm if not written properly.

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