If you’ve found this page, at one point or another you may have asked yourself “Do I need an employee handbook?”
The short answer is yes, you do!
A properly written employee handbook, kept up-to-date and in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws, is the single most important and influential document in your dental or medical practice.
An Employee Handbook:
- Clearly communicates workplace rules and benefits such as office hours, dress code, computer use, PTO and vacation requests, lunch and breaks, HIPAA compliance, and as many as 150 other common day-to-day issues that managers need to address
- Establishes standards of conduct, such as new hire expectations, performance evaluations, corrective coaching practices, etc.
- Provides safe harbors and legal protections, such as at-will language, harassment or issue reporting, etc.
- Ensures consistency when it comes to managing different employee in similar situations.
Put simply, an employee handbook is your go-to resource for you and your employees to refer to when it comes to office rules, legal compliance and what to do in most situations. From not allowing work off the clock to how many weeks are allowed for a leave of absence and many more policies in between, it ensures consistency and fairness when it comes to managing your business and employees. Your employees know what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you.
An employee handbook is also your #1 defensive tool when it comes to deterring or fighting employment lawsuits. When your policies are well-written and in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws, it can prevent a huge percentage of legal issues from arising because an employee was “not aware of” or misunderstand a rule or regulation. A strong handbook can even deter the most money-hungry of contingency fee attorneys who know how difficult it is to fight and win against clearly written, legally compliant policies. It’s simply not worth their time.
Aren’t all handbooks the same?
No, they’re not. Just the same way that all cars do not perform the same, or come with the same safety features, likewise not all employee handbooks are created equal.
To enjoy the full protections and benefits that an employee handbook can provide, it needs to be professionally written by HR experts and customized to your location, number of employees, industry, and office culture.
Why customized? Let’s break it down.
Location: Each state has hundreds of employment laws that are unique to it, and often created to exceed federal employment laws in their scope and application. California and New York, in particular, have some of the most stringent employment laws in the country, making it that much harder to be an employer in that state. It’s even becoming more and more frequent for city and county laws to go even further.
If your policies do not reflect your state’s specific rules and regulations, you may be seen by state government enforcers as deliberately being out of compliance, and penalize you accordingly. That can be hundreds to thousands of dollars. Likewise, you don’t want to use a policy that uses another state’s rules. Just remember, if it’s in your written policies, you are obligated to follow them.
Number of employees: Depending on the number of employees in your office, different laws and protections at the local, state, and federal levels will apply to you. For example, some affect employers with 15 or more employees (such as federal laws prohibiting harassment and discrimination), others don’t kick in until you have 50 or more employees (such as the FMLA).
While a lot of these federal laws are designed to regulate medium to large companies and give smaller business some breathing room, you should never assume you’re off the hook if you’re a small business. Most state and local laws are written to protect employees regardless of the business size. In particular, the mandatory paid sick leave laws that keep getting passed across the country rarely make a difference based on your size. If you do not comply with even one of the number-specific laws, you are leaving yourself wide open for expensive lawsuits. And guess where your chances of winning stand?
Industry: You are a dentist/doctor/chiropractor/physical therapist/plastic surgeon/podiatrist/urgent care provider/dermatologist/[enter your industry here], and the demands of your industry are unique. Using something generic won’t give you the tools and protections you need, and you certainly don’t want to be held to another industry’s standards.
Office culture: Just like a fingerprint, there is no one else quite like you anywhere else in the world. Everything from your business goals to your expectations from your employees to how you like your exam rooms set up is unique. We call this your office culture. Your employee handbook should reflect that culture in every policy in every section, because that is what makes you, you. Anything less than tailored to your unique business won’t fit you or your employees well at all.
The simple truth is, you NEED an expert-created, employment-law-compliant, 100% up-to-date employee handbook if you want to properly protect and grow your practice. CEDR Solutions can provide you with one that meets all the criteria above, and for a fraction of the price it would cost you to use an attorney.
Still not sure you need an employee handbook?
No problem. Let’s review a few common objections:
“But my business is too small!” – No, it isn’t. There’s no longer any such thing as being small enough to fly under the radar of DOL enforcers OR money-hungry lawyers looking for settlement payouts. In fact, lawyers often count on small businesses for very large settlements, because they know you don’t have the resources for a lengthy and even more expensive court battle.
“But I already have handbook that I wrote/created from a template/downloaded/inherited!” – Sorry, but if you ever get sued, chances are good that you will be left unprotected, if not self-incriminated, by a template, borrowed, or self-written handbook. Why? Because templates and borrowed/downloaded/etc. handbooks are too generic. Would you rather have something made to fit you, or take a chance on a “one-size-fits-all” solution that might fail at any moment? And self-written handbooks contain dangerously imaginative policies that are often totally non-compliant with employment laws, leaving you, and your business, in legal hot water.
“But…if my policies can get me in trouble, isn’t it better not to have a handbook at all?” Not at all. Assuming that you have the right handbook – one that’s created and reviewed by HR experts, up-to-date and compliant with hundreds of local, state, and federal employment laws, and customized to your business’ size and needs – then your handbook is an incredibly powerful tool for your protection. Plus, in court, it’s your chance to show that your office makes every attempt to treat your employees fairly and legally comply with all applicable laws.
Call CEDR for a customized Employee Handbook for your healthcare practice
Save your money, and not for future legal fees. Protect your business’ financial future, and prevent employee lawsuits before they happen.
Call CEDR today at 866-414-6056 for more information.