When putting together your medical practice's handbook, outlining rules and policies for all staff, here are some things you should consider:
A handbook documents your policies, builds trust and helps you comply with federal and state laws. It even allows you to prepare favorable evidence ahead of time in case you are hit with a lawsuit.
Under most state laws, when no employment contract exists, a worker is employed on an “at-will” basis. This means the employee can be fired at any time for any reason.
How to Comply
To preserve your at-will status, include a prominent disclaimer in your handbook, up front. It should state clearly that:
1. All employees are hired on an at-will basis;
2. Each person’s employment is for no specific term;
3. The employer and the employee reserve the right to terminate the relationship at any time; and
4. Nothing in the employee handbook should be construed as a contract or guarantee of continued employment.
Once a year you should be reviewing your personnel policies and rules.
Each employee should have received, upon employment, a copy of your personnel policies and rules handbook. With new employees, it is advised that you provide them with the handbook. Suggest they read and then schedule a meeting to answer any new employee questions.
The manager, with the new employee, can clarify areas that are important to all employees, and that often are points of confusion. These usually include:
• Paid sick days and eligibility
• Time off without pay
• Tardiness — guidelines/penalties
• Paid vacation days and eligibility
And, at any time, if there have been revisions, additions, deletions, or other modifications, each employee should be given any updated change. Many managers even make any such changes part of a staff meeting to assist staff in better interpretation of those changes.
When Doing Your Periodic Review
When you do your personnel policies and rules review, contact your state’s Department of Labor. Request the latest version of your state’s wages and hours regulations. Changes do take place. And, sometimes, different employees may have differing interpretations of what constitutes your state’s regulations.
When you are reviewing your own policies and rules, have your state’s regulations handy. And, if you have any questions consider contacting the state’s Department of Labor for clarification. This is particularly important since many states have different requirements regarding overtime, maternity and disability leave, and harassment.
Here's a checklist for your personnel policies and rules handbook.
Checklist for Personnel Policies and Rules Handbook
Working Hours and Overtime Authorization/Pay
Vacation Policy and Eligibility
Sick Leave — Paid and Unpaid
Leaves of Absence without Pay
Personal Time Off
• Jury Duty/Military Leave
• Provided by practice?
Personal Appearance /Cleanliness
Uniforms and/or Dress Code
Internet, E-mail, and Phone Use
Harassment, Including Sexual Harassment
Standards of Conduct