Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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What sort of HR software does CEDR provide?

We offer a complete, customizable HR and team management platform for small to midsize businesses, particularly those in the dental, healthcare, and wellness industries. Start with HR Vault for free and add integrations and upgrades as needed. Our software offerings include:

HR Vault

Our secure document storage and sharing software makes it easy to keep track of all of your employees’ information, including corrective actions and signed documents. Inside HR Vault you can:

  • Store all important employee information securely in the cloud.
  • Upload and store an unlimited number of digital HR documents and files.
  • Share documents with select team members or keep them visible only to you.
  • Collect legally binding digital signatures on your handbook, corrective actions, and other documents.
  • Send reminders for employees to sign documents.
  • Make announcements and send company-wide bulletins to your team.
  • Access our exclusive library of HR forms, documents, educational resources, and more!

Unlock HR Vault for Free for the Life of Your Business!

PTO & Time Tracking

This isn’t your ordinary punch clock! The customizable PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault makes it easy to:

  • Track employee hours and attendance at a glance.
  • Get notifications when employees punch in or out early or late.
  • Track meal and break periods as required by local laws.
  • Prevent “buddy punching” with geofencing and other features.
  • Get notifications when your employees are getting close to overtime.
  • Track employee time off as it accrues per your office policies and local laws.
  • Make timecard and punching corrections in seconds.
  • Enable employees to check their own time off balances so they don’t have to ask you.
  • Integrates with payroll for two-click payroll submission.
  • Minimize interruptions with digital time-off requests and more!

Try PTO & Time Tracking Free for 30 Days!

On-Demand HIPAA Training

Our on-demand HIPAA Training program makes it easy to keep your team up to date on how to safely handle PHI on your time and on your terms. On-demand HIPAA Training includes:

  • Video training program for all employees on your team.
  • Annual reminders to retrain.
  • Advanced training track for your Privacy and Security Officers.
  • Compliance certificates for employees who complete the program.
  • A “HIPAA Compliant” badge for your company website and more!

HIPAA Train Your Team Free for a Year!

Can anyone use your software or is it just for CEDR Members?

Full and unlimited access to all of our software programs is included as part of your CEDR Membership.

Still, non-members are welcome to use our HR Vault document storage and sharing program absolutely free and to add PTO & Time Tracking to that software for a small fee.

Click here to unlock your free HR Vault.

Click here to upgrade HR Vault with PTO + HIPAA Training.

How much does it cost to purchase the CEDR Software Suite?

For CEDR Members, the software is 100% free to use as part of your membership. To talk to someone about getting your software set up, click here to submit a support request.

Non-members are welcome to use our document storage and sharing software, HR Vault, for free.

The PTO & Time Tracking integration can be added for $29.99 + tax / month (includes access for up to 10 employees; add $3 + tax / month for each additional employee) following your 30-Day Free Trial.

Access to on-demand HIPAA Training is free for the first year, then bills at $199 + tax / year (includes access for up to 25 employees; add $4 + tax / year for each additional employee).

How can I get started?

If you are a CEDR Member or have a paid subscription to the CEDR Software Suite and you need help setting up your account, click here to submit a support request.

If you are not a CEDR Member, you can start by unlocking access to your personal HR Vault account for free. Use the link below to claim your free software.

[Unlock HR Vault Free!]

What is HR Vault?

HR Vault is CEDR’s proprietary employee information system and document storage, sharing, and signature collection software.

You can use HR Vault to store all of your employees’ employment and personal information, as well as to store and distribute documents, collect signatures from your team members, make company-wide announcements, keep confidential notes, and organize your files in a user-friendly digital environment. Access to HR Vault includes access to an exclusive library of forms and documents that make managing easier.

If you are a business owner or manager, you are invited to use HR Vault absolutely free for the life your business.

Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

How does HR Vault work?

Once you’ve activated your HR Vault account, you’ll be prompted to add your employees, set their permission levels, and invite your team to the Vault.

Once invited, each member of your team will receive their own HR Vault login, which they can use to access their personal HR Vault Dashboard. Inside this dashboard, employees can only see documents shared with them directly and those that are able to be viewed by everyone at their particular permission level. All employees will also be able to see the company bulletin board, where announcements and notices will be posted that are meant to be shared company wide.

Should you choose to upgrade HR Vault to include PTO & Time Tracking or HIPAA Training, employees will be able to access those portals to clock in and out, make time card corrections, view their time off balances, make time-off requests, and complete HIPAA training from within the HR Vault dashboard, as well.

Ready to dive in? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

What sort of information can I store in HR Vault?

Each employee profile inside HR Vault allows you to store an array of personal information such as your employee’s name, email, phone number, address, birthday, emergency contact information, and more.

HR Vault also helps you keep track of important HR information, including each employee’s hire date, their employment and exemption status, the location in which they work, their title, department, supervisor’s name, employee ID number, pay rates, employee benefits, etc.

The file storing and sharing capabilities inside HR Vault also provide unlimited opportunities for storing and distributing important work-related documents like your employee handbook, corrective actions, office memos, training videos, and policy updates while also allowing you to make confidential notes about performance, behavior, and important conversations you have with your employees in their dedicated files.

Ready to get started? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

How many employees can I add in HR Vault?

CEDR Members can add an unlimited number of users to their HR Vault accounts.

For free HR Vault users, the software is capped at 15 employees. If your business expands beyond that threshold, you can add additional users to your account for a small fee.

If you would like to discuss expanding the availability of HR Vault to additional employees beyond the 15-employee limit for free accounts, please set up a time to speak with an account specialist here.

Ready to get started? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

How many files can I upload in HR Vault?

There is no limit to the number of files you can upload, but there is a 50mb limit as to the size of file that can be uploaded.

Ready to get started? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

What type of files can I upload?

The HR Vault supports a wide array of files, including Word Docs, Excel files, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, PNG and JPG images, as well as MP3, MP4, and WAV files.

Ready to get started? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

Are signatures collected in HR Vault legally valid?

Yes! A signature collected digitally in HR Vault is just as valid as one signed on paper by hand.

Any file that is uploaded to the HR Vault can be shared and signed by employees to verify they’ve received and read the document.

Ready to dive in? Unlock Your Free HR Vault Now!

How can I get started?

If you are a CEDR Member or have a paid subscription to the CEDR Software Suite and you need help setting up your account, click here to submit a support request.

If you are not a CEDR Member, you can start by unlocking access to your personal HR Vault account for free. Use the link below to claim your free software.

[Unlock HR Vault Free!]

How does the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault work?

Once the PTO & Time Tracking tool is activated for your HR Vault account, your employees will see a timekeeping island in their personal HR Vault dashboard whenever they login. They’ll then be able to clock in and out with a single click on the appropriate button inside of that timekeeping island.

The timekeeping island also provides easy access to the employee timekeeping portal. In that portal, employees can review and approve their timecards, correct punching mistakes (if you allow them to do so), review their available time-off balances for any category specified by your business (vacation, sick time, emergency leave, FMLA leave, etc.), see which days other employees on their team have requested time off, and make instant time-off requests.

You’ll get a notification when an employee makes a change to their timecard or submits a time-off request so you can approve, deny, or modify the request whenever it’s convenient for you.

Your PTO & Time Tracking account is customizable to your office policies, as well as the laws in your state, county, or city. The system can be programmed to account for mandated break and customized so that time off accrues at specific rates for specific categories automatically, eliminating the need for manual calculations and tracking. You can also set the system up to send you notifications whenever employees clock in or out late or early, to prevent punching by friends or outside the office, to notify you when employees are approaching overtime, and more.

Your admin portal also makes it easy to monitor employee hours and time off at a glance, pull custom timekeeping and payroll reports, and to submit payroll to your provider in a matter of seconds.

When you put it all together, all of this adds up to fewer payroll mistakes, less wasted time, and added control for you as a business owner.

When you’re ready to upgrade the timekeeping system you use at your office, try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

I have a complex time off accrual policy. Can the system track this?

Yes! CEDR’s PTO & Time Tracking integration can track even the most complex time-off policies.

Time off can be set up to accrue yearly, quarterly, monthly, by pay period, weekly, or even daily. Time off can also accrue based on hours worked and can even be prorated based on an employee’s hire date and first day of eligibility. The system will also manage any rollover over pay and cash out policies you may have.

In short, no time-off policy is too complex for this timekeeping system.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

How can I prevent my employees from clocking outside the office if they clock online?

Clocking can be restricted to specific IP addresses, so employees will have to be either logged in on an office computer or connected to the office WiFi network in order to clock in/out.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

Can I track things like bonuses and commissions?

Yes! We can set up any type of customized category for your PTO & Time Tracking system so that it automatically tracks and applies payments based on hours worked or specific input amounts for each category.

We can also program any specific rules you may have in those categories such as required attendance rates, minimum production levels, minimum hours worked to receive payments, and anything else you might use to determine whether or not an employee is eligible for a certain bonus or type of payment.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

Can the PTO & Time Tracking integration track mandatory breaks and lunches?

Yes! Upon request, we can enable “Break” and “Meal” options on the timekeeping island your employees use to clock in and out in order to track breaks and meals based on your specific office policies and/or the laws in your state, county, or city. These options can be set up as “paid” or “unpaid” time.

When breaks or meals are paid, we can customize grace periods during which employees can clock back in before the entire break or lunch is considered unpaid. We can also program the system to automatically pay for a certain portion of a break or meal period, as needed.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

My employees accrue time off based on their employment status and length of employment. Will the system take this into account?

Yes! The system can check the status and start date of each employee and determine how much time off they’re eligible to accrue. We can also customize how much time off employees accrue based on the number of hours they work per week.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

My time off accrual rates differ from location to location. How do I manage this in the PTO & Time Tracking system?

Customizing your system to account for unique policies across multiple locations is easy in CEDR’s PTO & Time Tracking integration.

We can set up different accrual rules based on a variety of employee information including location, department, status, and more!

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

Can I track time for employees that work at multiple locations using the same system?

Yes! You can track where an employee is working either by allowing them to select their location manually when clocking in, or by automatically assigning a location based on where they were when they clocked in/out.

Similar to the IP restriction that allows you to prevent employees from clocking in or out when they are not actually at the office, the system knows where an employee clocked in/out from and will assign a “Location” on timecards accordingly.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

Can I track different shift types for employees that have multiple job types?

Yes! We can customize your PTO & Time Tracking account to ask any question you’d like when your employees clock in or out and then have them pick from a list of eligible answers.

This will allow your employees to select options such as “Shift Type” or “Department” each time they clock in. We can also associate different time card categories and/or pay rates based on the option they selected.

This feature can be applied just to specific employees or to your entire team.

Ready to get started? Try the PTO & Time Tracking integration inside HR Vault Free for 30 days.

How can I get started?

If you are a CEDR Member or have a paid subscription to the PTO & Time Tracking integration and you need help setting up your account, click here to submit a support request.

If you are not a CEDR Member, you’ll first need to unlock access to a free HR Vault account.

Once you have activated HR Vault, you can start your 30-day trial of the PTO & Time Tracking integration by clicking here or by following the prompts you’ll see when you first login to your HR Vault.

How does CEDR’s on-demand HIPAA Training program work?

Once your account is activated, you’ll be prompted to invite your employees to use the on-demand training program. Once invited, each of your employees will receive a unique HIPAA Training login that will allow them to access online training.

You’ll be notified when an employee completes their training, and will receive a notification that it’s time for them to retrain on the one year anniversary of their last training session.

Start HIPAA Training Your Team for Free!

How do my employees complete their HIPAA training?

Employees take their training by logging into their own account and watching the appropriate training videos (about 1 hour for Basic Training plus an additional 90 minutes for Advanced Training). They will then have the chance to take a brief online quiz about the material covered in the training videos in order to receive their training certification.

We recommend making HIPAA Training with this system part of your new-hire onboarding process to ensure that your employees never touch a patient’s PHI before they have updated their understanding of how to do so safely and legally.

Start HIPAA Training Your Team for Free!

Who is required to take HIPAA training?

All employees are required to take Basic HIPAA training on a yearly basis. We also recommended that you have your new employees go through the Basic Training program to ensure they are certified before working with your patients’ PHI.

At least one employee at your office should be designated as your Security & Privacy Officer and take the Advanced Training course. They would then be your office’s go-to resource for questions about HIPAA, HIPAA training, and what to do when a HIPAA breach occurs.

Start HIPAA Training Your Team for Free!

How do I confirm that my employees have completed HIPAA training?

The owner and/or administrator of your HIPAA Training account will receive notifications whenever an employee completes HIPAA training. Certificates are then automatically issued for those employees by the system and those certificates are kept on file for record verification.

Start HIPAA Training Your Team for Free!

What is the difference between Basic and Advanced Training?

Basic Training covers standard HIPAA rules and compliance.

Advanced Training goes into more detailed information necessary for the Security Privacy Officer, including how to prevent HIPAA breaches and how to proceed should one occur at your office.

Start HIPAA Training Your Team for Free!

Do I need to be a member to have access to CEDR HIPAA Training?

Online HIPAA Training is always included in CEDR Membership, but standalone access to the service is also available on a yearly subscription basis.

Want to give it a try? Train your entire team (up to 25 employees) free for your first year!

How can I get started?

If you are a CEDR Member or have a paid subscription HIPAA Training and you need help setting up your account, click here to submit a support request.

If you are not a CEDR Member, you can try on-demand HIPAA Training free for your first year here.

What is the HR Solution Center?

In short, the HR Solution Center is a problem-solving and compliance hub that exists for the sole purpose of helping business owners and managers like you limit your legal liability and solve any HR problems you might face while running your business.

CEDR’s HR Solution Center team is made up of HR and employment law experts who are on-call five days a week to help CEDR Members prevent and solve HR problems as they arise. Our all-star advisor team is made up of seasoned HR veterans, HR certified professionals, and attorneys specializing in employment law.

The HR Advisors in CEDR’s Solution Center are hired for their HR expertise, experience, and credentials. Once hired, each Advisor is put through a rigorous training process to ensure that their knowledge of HR and employment laws is current, up-to-date, and comprehensive with respect to current HR and team management trends, as well as employment laws at the federal, state, and local levels.

As a new CEDR Member, you’ll work one-on-one with an expert HR Advisor in the Solution Center to customize your CEDR Employee Handbook to fit your unique business and comply with all applicable federal laws, as well as any laws specific to your state, county, and/or city. CEDR Members also have unlimited access to the Solution Center for help with any HR, team management, or compliance issue that might arise during the course of your membership.

Running in the background of the HR Solution Center is the legal engine we call the CEDR Compliance Department. Employment laws are always changing, which is why this team of employment law attorneys is tasked with watching employment laws and legal trends as they roll out across the United States in order to ensure that our members remain current and compliant with all rules, regulations, and guidelines that apply to them.

This allows our members to practice with confidence knowing that your business is always up-to-date from a compliance standpoint without having to worry about a compliance lapse or monitor the ever-shifting landscape of employment laws yourself.

What types of problems can the HR Solution Center help me solve?

The HR and employment law experts in CEDR’s Solution Center are ready and able to help you prevent any HR, team management, and/or employment law compliance issues before they present a problem, and/or help you troubleshoot any issues in those categories as they arise at your business.

In addition to assisting employers with addressing any HR questions they might have, CEDR Members also receive handbook updates whenever laws change in a way that might affect their business, as well as access to our deep library of white-labeled HR forms and documents.

Though not a complete list of the issues we can help you work through, here are some of the most common problems we help employers solve on a daily basis:


  • Frequent Tardiness / Absenteeism
  • Dress Code Violations
  • Employee Hygiene Problems
  • Whiners / Complainers
  • Drama Kings / Queens
  • Bullies
  • Complicators
  • Laziness & Bad Attitudes


  • Injuries on the Job
  • Employee Disputes
  • Disagreements & Infighting
  • In-office Gossip
  • Harassment
  • Complaints & Investigations
  • In-office Dating


  • Job Descriptions
  • Job Ads
  • Interviews
  • Working Interviews / Skills Tests
  • Employment Offers
  • New Hire Onboarding
  • Employee Classification
  • New Hire Paperwork
  • Training


  • How to Handle a Two-Week Notice
  • Preparing to Terminate
  • Documentation and Paperwork
  • Risk Assessment / Protecting Your Practice
  • Exit Interviews
  • Final Pay Process
  • Layoffs & Terminations
  • Job Abandonment
  • Voluntary Resignations
  • Unemployment Issues


  • Employee Coaching
  • Corrective Actions
  • Having Tough Conversations
  • Scheduling Conflicts
  • Continuing Education
  • Travel & Training
  • Overtime, Commissions, and Bonuses
  • HR Appropriate Holidays & Parties
  • Temporary Office Closure
  • Time-Off Requests


  • Policy Enforcement
  • Federal, State, & Local Employment Laws
  • Sick Leave
  • Time Off
  • Timekeeping and Mandatory Breaks
  • Wage and Hour Laws
  • Discrimination Laws
  • Medical Accommodations
  • Maternity Leave
  • Leaves of Absence

Please note that, as HR specialists, we are unable to assist with questions related directly to patient care. For questions about patient care, please refer to the state boards and associations for your industry.

Why would my business need professional HR support?

HR and employment law compliance are complicated subjects that require specialized knowledge, expertise, and experience to master.

Addressing the HR issues that arise at your business in ways that are good for you, good for your business, good for your team, and are in accordance with all applicable laws is a nuanced and detail-oriented process. Without intimate knowledge of current employment laws and how they apply to your business, it would be difficult for any employer without a professional HR certification or JD in employment law to implement any team management or policy decisions without leaving their businesses vulnerable to employment litigation or an audit by the Department of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Most business owners got into their industry and area of specialization by becoming experts in a particular product or service. For most of our members, that meant attending dental and/or medical school, which likely left precious little time to also cultivate a detailed knowledge in other areas of running a business, including HR, team management, and employment law.

What’s more, most managers of small-to-midsize businesses also lack crucial information in these important areas. That’s because the vast majority of professionals in management roles rose in the ranks of their industry to ultimately find themselves in a management position. This explains why nearly half of all managers say that they have never had any formal management training — a dangerous figure when you consider the potential costs of HR compliance mistakes.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1 in 5 small business end up facing lawsuits from their employees or former employees
  • 275 = average number of days it takes to settle an employment matter
  • $125,000 = average cost to settle out of court
  • $250,000 = average cost of an employment lawsuit
  • 81% = portion of cases that result in no payment by insurance
  • $35,000 = average employment liability insurance deductible
  • 62% = portion of audited cases that turn up employee classification errors
  • 40% = portion of SMBs who pay fines for payroll mistakes each year

Having CEDR’s HR experts in your corner can help you minimize your exposure to potential employment litigation and avoid costly lawsuits. The experts in our HR Solution Center can also help you to address and correct any compliance issues that may already be on your books before they present a problem — and a financial burden — to your business.

What distinguishes the CEDR Solution Center from other HR support services?

Where other services like to boast about the fact that their call centers are staffed by “real, live people,” we think employers deserve a little bit more when HR issues come up at their businesses.

Not only is the CEDR Solution Center composed of “real, live people,” but those people are qualified, experienced HR and employment law experts. When you call the Solution Center, you’re going to get actionable, legally compliant guidance from a real, experienced HR professional every single time.

When you work directly with experts, there’s no need to escalate your call to a manager or transfer from department to department in order to find someone who understands what you’re talking about. Every HR Request that comes into the Solution Center goes straight to one of our expert Advisors, so you know the guidance you’ll get back will be thoughtful, personal, and in line with all applicable laws — and that’s just not the type of service you should expect from the other guys.

How do I know the guidance I get from the Solution Center is up to date and compliant?

Since the majority of the HR Advisors in the CEDR Solution Center are either barred attorneys or are certified by one of the two professional HR organizations that offer official licensure, they are required to continually renew their professional credentials by taking regular CE courses in the same way that doctors and dentists are required to take CE to remain licensed.

Our Compliance Department is also tasked specifically with keeping an eye on the state of current and pending employment laws at the federal, state, and local levels, and then disseminating their findings to both the Solution Center team and our Member base.

Finally, the Solution Center team does not work in a bubble. When a particularly sticky or complicated HR issue arises for one of our members, the Advisors in the Solution Center work together to come up with a solution that best supports that member’s business needs and minimizes their legal risk.

Whenever you reach out to the CEDR Solution Center for HR support and guidance, you can rest easy knowing that our team of HR experts has done everything in their power to ensure that they have provided the best possible course of action for addressing your HR concerns in a way that protects your business from potential legal liability.

What is included with my Solution Center Membership?

Solution Center Membership includes the peace of mind and confidence that comes with knowing your business is protected and in compliance with all federal, state, and local employment laws, plus a whole lot more!

As a CEDR Solution Center Member, you have unlimited access to one-on-one guidance from our expert HR Advisors. Members can submit an HR Support Request from your Members Area here.

In addition to helping you customize your CEDR Employee Handbook and troubleshoot HR issues as they arise, CEDR’s HR experts can also help you draft employee letters and notices, create and implement HR and team management strategies for your business, perform risk assessments, make updates to the policies in your employee handbook, and more.

CEDR Members also have exclusive access to the CEDR Members Area, which includes dozens of white-labled HR forms and documents, employee job descriptions, legal updates, access to the CEDR Member Forum, and more.

As a CEDR Member, you also get full access to our powerful suite of customizable HR and team management software. This includes:

  • HR Vault employee file system + document storage, sharing, and signature collection
  • PTO & Time Tracking with payroll integration, automatic time-off accrual, and instant time-off requests
  • On-Demand HIPAA Training

For software support, to get help setting up your system, or if you have any additional questions about how to get the most out of your Solution Center Membership, send a message to

How do I get in touch with the CEDR Solution Center?

If you are a CEDR Member and need HR support from the Solution Center, you can get in touch in the following ways:

We guarantee a response to any HR inquiry within one business day of receiving your request.

If you are not a CEDR Member but would like to submit an HR question, join our private, professional Facebook Group, HR Base Camp.

To talk to someone about becoming a CEDR Member, you can get in touch in the following ways:

When is the Solution Center open?

The CEDR Solution Center is open:

  • Monday-Thursday, 8:30am – 4:30pm Arizona time
  • Friday, 8:30am – 3:30pm Arizona time.

Note that Arizona time is the same as Mountain Standard Time (MST), but the state does not observe Daylight Savings. To see the current time in Arizona, click here.

CEDR is also closed on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • The Friday following Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day

Who can contact the CEDR Solution Center for support?

Access to the Solution Center is limited to business owners who are members of CEDR and any users the business owner authorizes from their business (usually an office manager). If you would like to add an authorized user to your CEDR account, submit an HR Support Request to that effect here.

We cannot assist employees who are not authorized users directly, nor can we assist authorized users when the HR issue they are inquiring about concerns them (e.g., a payroll discrepancy on your OM’s paystub, if your authorized user has been accused of harassment by another employee, etc.) as this could present a conflict of interest to our business owner members.

Our goal at CEDR is to protect our business-owner members to the best of our ability, and part of that protection involves limiting employee access to the expert Advisors in the Solution Center.

Does the CEDR Solution Center provide legal advice?

As HR and employment law experts, we are happy to provide you with solutions to your HR problems that are compliant with all employment laws that apply to your business. But, since we do not represent your business in a legal sense, our HR Advisors are not able to provide legal advice in the same way that your legally appointed council does.

Rather, CEDR’s products and services are intended to provide general liability prevention guidance in the field of human resources and are not meant to substitute for legal advice from a barred attorney in your state. CEDR is not a law firm and, therefore, no attorney client relationship is established by your CEDR Membership.

What if I have an HR emergency?

We guarantee a response to any HR Support Request that comes from one of our members within one business day of receiving that request.

Because HR issues can be nuanced and complicated, they require time for review to ensure that the guidance we provide is personalized, actionable, and legally compliant.

In general, we like to stress for our members that there is no such thing as an “HR emergency.” What we mean by this is that even the most complicated and egregious HR issues require time to investigate, document, and formulate and implement a plan to resolve them.

If you feel that an employee or former employee is threatening or putting you, your business, or other members of your team at risk, this indicates that the issue has grown past the scope of traditional HR advice. When this is the case, we recommend that you contact local law enforcement.

What is an Employee Handbook?

Simply put, an employee handbook is the cornerstone of your HR management and compliance strategy. Done correctly, it will make running your practice measurably easier.

A professionally written, legally compliant employee handbook is the single most cost-effective tool your office can have. This is true whether you have 2 employees or 200. When written and implemented properly, your employee handbook is a set of policies that can prevent and resolve disputes and set you and your team up for success.

Your office can only be productive if it has clear guidelines that are followed by every member of your team, and those guidelines need to be explained and disseminated to everyone in your practice. One of the primary functions of your employee handbook policies is to set expectations for your team members, bringing all of you onto the same page. The policies in a properly written employee handbook benefit you AND your employees. This makes employee disputes and legal claims much less likely and makes virtually all aspects of your business run more smoothly.

Do I Need an Employee Handbook?

Yes! A professionally written employee handbook, kept up to date and in compliance with all state and federal laws that apply to you, is the most powerful document in your practice. It’s the go-to problem-solver for you and your employees when it comes to office rules, legal compliance, and what to do in day-to-day workplace situations.

Your employee handbook helps prevent many HR headaches before they ever happen. It’s a common resource for everyone — from your office manager to a new employee on their first day — to handle day-today issues, questions, and problems. With fair rules that are applied consistently, you’ll avoid many of the common dilemmas that cause larger problems down the line.

Professionally written employee handbooks also tend to discourage frivolous lawsuits by disgruntled employees and unscrupulous attorneys. The case against an employer becomes much more difficult when there is an updated and legally compliant employee handbook in place—so much so that often it’s simply not worth it for many plaintiffs’ attorneys to take such a case with so many easier targets available.

In the event that an employee does bring a claim against your business, whether that claim is justified or not, your employee handbook serves as powerful evidence that your office makes every effort to treat employees equally and fairly. This can mean the difference between winning and losing a case. Even in the worst-case scenario, the consequences are likely to be far less severe for a business that can provide evidence of good-faith efforts to follow all applicable employment laws.

Can I Write My Handbook Myself?

Self-made or DIY handbooks are very popular with doctors and managers looking to save a few dollars. But, just like you wouldn’t recommend that a patient perform his own root canal or appendectomy at home to save money, it is just as dangerous to attempt to write your handbook on your own.

The harsh reality is that doctors are FIVE TIMES more likely to be the target of a complaint from a former or disgruntled employee than a malpractice lawsuit from a patient. And the employee does not even need to have a good case to get you in trouble. All they need is for their lawyer to find a problematic or illegal policy in your employee handbook.

Writing a handbook requires advanced knowledge of federal, state, and even your city’s employment laws, and includes factors such as how many employees you currently have and what industry you’re in. Plus, these complex laws change so frequently—at the rate of dozens of times per year—that only an HR expert or an attorney with the right focus and experience has the tools (and the time!) to fully comprehend and keep up with everything.

As a practice owner or manager, you already have an impressive skill set and an endless to-do list. You don’t have time to learn to be an attorney. You need someone with specialized knowledge to write your handbook, so it protects you instead of endangering you.

Can I Use an Employee Handbook Template?

Using a purchased or free employee handbook template sounds like a good alternative to writing one yourself. Unfortunately, many templates are “one-size-fits-all.” They’re made with the lowest common denominator in mind to cast the widest net.

Generic or low-quality employee handbook templates can obliterate your ability to defend a claim, result in hefty fines or settlements, and cost you tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. And, since hundreds of state and federal employment laws are changed or created during the course of each year, a one-size-fits-all template cannot possibly be kept up to date (This is even more true in states like California, New York, or some others, where the legal provisions employers must comply with are especially numerous and strict).

Plus, how many employees you have, your industry, and your office culture also matter when it comes to what policies and protections you need to have in place.

In order to gain all the benefits and protections available to you as an employer, you need to have an up-to-date employee handbook that’s been professionally written and customized for your business. You also need access to HR experts and employment law consultants who can keep your policies up to date and help you solve tough issues in accordance with those policies. Besides, there’s no substitute for working one-on-one with real HR experts, whose knowledge and understanding you can trust.

Why Not Just Hire a Lawyer?

We hear doctors say this all the time: “I asked my brother’s friend’s cousin, who is an attorney, to write my policies for me,” or “My real estate attorney said he could write my handbook.”

But consider this: An attorney’s focus and experience is just as crucial as a dentist’s or doctor’s. Would you let a cardiologist remove your wisdom teeth? A real estate attorney or one who specializes in copyright law may not have the relevant training or experience to write or correctly customize your policies. Their process might even look similar to yours: ask colleagues, make educated guesses, and make liberal use of Google. Not the recipe for a great employee handbook.

There IS one important difference between their research and yours: theirs will cost you upwards of $350 an hour! And, of course, the next time there’s a law change in your state, you’ll have to pay them again to update the handbook. And the next time. And the next time. If you need guidance on implementing the policies they come up with, there’s likely to be a hefty hourly consultation fee for that, as well.

While there is no replacement for direct legal representation when the situation calls for it, CEDR’s HR support services can help prevent most HR problems from escalating. Between the lawsuit deterrence a well-written employee handbook provides and the unlimited expert HR support and guidance offered by our Solution Center, we can alleviate the need to have your employment law attorney on speed dial.

Isn’t Having No Handbook Better?

Many doctors are told by their attorneys or colleagues that having no handbook is better than having one that requires constant updates. Their argument is, with no handbook, you won’t have outdated policies on record every time employment laws change.

In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Your handbook is often the ONLY evidence of your intention to comply with state and federal laws and to treat all your employees fairly and consistently. It lays out rules that apply to everyone and shows your commitment to providing employees a safe, fair environment to perform their duties.

In addition, by having no handbook, you also don’t have any of the numerous protective policies that are available to you as an employer. These are important because most employment laws are written for the benefit of the employee, not the employer. But with the right language, some responsibility can be transferred back to the employee to let you know of issues or problems in your practice.

Finally, why REACT to a problem when you can PREVENT it? An employee handbook, together with other tools (like a separate Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy) can help you prevent, address, and solve most common issues before they can escalate. After all, the easiest lawsuit to overcome is the one that never happens!

Why Should I Pick Custom-made?

Just like a “one-size-fits-all” business suit would never match the comfort, fit, and utility of one tailored for your body, a generic employee handbook is not as effective as one written specifically for your business. Instead, what you need is a custom handbook that will address all of the following:

  • Your state and city. In addition to the many federal laws that you must comply with, each state has hundreds of unique employment laws, and they are often more specific, stricter, and more broadly applicable. And, depending on your city/municipality, even more specific rules may apply.
  • Your number of employees. Different laws and protections at both the state and federal levels kick in when you reach a certain number of employees. A company with 5 employees needs different policies and procedures than one with 15 employees, 25 employees, or 50+. For those practices who are growing quickly, you must also prepare to reach the employee-number milestones early. Retroactive application is not recommended.
  • Your industry. Healthcare is a very different industry from transportation, farming, or food service. Your employee handbook needs to take into account specifics and recent changes that apply to your field.
  • Your office culture. Just like a fingerprint, there is no other practice quite like yours in the world. You need something tailored to your business’ values and goals to get the greatest benefit from your employee handbook.

Combined, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all solution can’t address all of these areas properly for everyone. Something, somewhere, will be missed. And correctly merging your unique office culture with the policies and protections you need takes legal and HR expertise. That’s what CEDR is for—to make sure you get what you want, while still getting what you need.

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