4 Things to Add to Your Employee Handbook That We Learned From COVID-19
The workplace has changed in a number of ways since the COVID-19 pandemic. For many employers, this means that they need to completely overhaul their employee handbooks. If you are reviewing your policies, here are four things to add to your employee handbook.
Now more than ever, employees are placing importance on work-life balance. They want more than just a couple of weeks of paid vacation. Many workers are searching for employers to offer mental health days and other paid leave options, such as paternity and maternity leave. Employees also want to know that they will be covered in the event they or someone in their family falls ill with coronavirus.
Be sure to update your policies surrounding paid leave and what will be covered. For instance, if one of your employees tests positive for COVID and is sent home, will their time off be paid or unpaid. Outline it clearly for them. You should also consider what additional benefits for paid time off you can provide as well, like paid mental health days and similar PTO.
Many employers will also need to revisit their attendance and scheduling policies within their handbooks. Your attendance policy has likely relaxed a bit since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Adjust your handbook to reflect that. Mention other flexible options, such as working from home or working a flex schedule to meet their needs. You should also offer adjusted attendance and scheduling for individuals with children or caregiver issues that have changed due to coronavirus.
Another thing you may want to make note of in this section is adjusted meal and break times. Because you still don’t want large numbers of employees grouped together, outline a staggered break and mealtime schedule. Explain that this schedule is put in place to encourage social distancing.
Workplace safety must be a top priority for employers. In your handbook, outline how you plan to keep your staff safe if they are returning to the workplace. Include information about policies and guidelines regarding social distancing and masks. If you plan to perform workplace screening for COVID, detail how the system will work.
Other safety procedures you may want to add to your employee handbook include contact tracing, vaccine requirements, visitor policies, and what your plan is if there is a positive COVID test in the office.
Last, but certainly not least, you will likely need to revisit your employee healthcare. You may need to update your policy to confirm whether or not employees are covered under your healthcare plan when they are furloughed or laid off. Additionally, outline any requirements for coverage reinstatement. Be sure to detail any coverage changes that have been made as well.
As an employer, you may also want to look into adding flexible spending accounts to include over-the-counter drugs and any national policy changes. Make note of any extended deadlines and include them in your handbook as well.
Working with a staffing agency like The Bradley Group can help you identify what policies you may want to update. Contact us to learn more about our services.