DE Insights Take 2: Andrew J. Adams on Employee Handbooks

Employers might want to “Take 2” minutes to hear what our Andrew J. Adams has to say about employee handbooks and their ability to protect companies from costly litigation.


Businesses looking to control costs by building efficiencies deserve praise, because no one wants any waste in departmental workflows. But in my view, it’s fascinating that employee handbooks aren’t always on that checklist, even when they absolutely should be. In my DE Insight article on employee handbooks, I wrote that a properly drafted handbook can be a relatively inexpensive and extremely useful tool in limiting your company’s liability.

Employee costs can be a huge variable for businesses, and doing all you can to keep your workers happy will limit the amount you spend on recruiting and training new employees. Keeping your workforce engaged starts with clear and defensible rules about workplace conduct, but as I mentioned in the article, even the most careful and thoughtful employers get sued or become subjects of regulatory investigations.

When that happens, a well-drafted, and more importantly, an adequately enforced employee handbook is a useful tool in demonstrating a company’s focus on legal compliance to those investigating regulatory agencies. And this is where we stress that it’s not enough just to have an employee handbook, but one that’s well-drafted. Does the language cover and abide by all federal state and local laws?

As someone who deals with employment law daily, I can tell you that things can and do change quickly, and you get zero points from regulators for ignorance. So the next time your boss asks you how to cut costs, respond by throwing the handbook at him or her. Chances are you’ll be thanking yourself later.