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The Importance of Updating Employee Handbooks

Added by Hawley Troxell in Articles & Publications, Employment Law on August 20, 2013

Here is a reminder to human resource departments to keep employee handbooks up-to-date to avoid having small matters evolve into a much larger and costlier issues.

The Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently investigated a complaint by an employee of T.G.I. Fridays at a restaurant in Louisiana. The DOL found that Fridays had “violated the FMLA by failing to reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position, including pay, benefits, and other terms of employment, and that the worker was not allowed to return to work immediately following FMLA-covered leave.” The DOL also found that the “delay in allowing the employee to return to work caused the employee to lose three weeks of pay,” and reached an agreement that Fridays would pay the employee $1,455 in back wages.

The bigger problem, however, was that the employee’s complaint resulted in the DOL launching an investigation into Fridays’ company-wide FMLA policy: “Additionally, the [DOL] investigation found that the company’s FMLA policy and worker rights notification practices were not in keeping with the law. Specifically, the policy did not include information on the FMLA’s military family leave provisions, information on the right to take FMLA-covered leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis, and misstated the 12-month employment requirement for FMLA eligibility as being 12 continuous months.” Based on this investigation, the DOL reached an agreement that Fridays would “change its leave policy to be in compliance with the [FMLA],” a “move [that] affects employees at its 272 company-owned locations.” Thus, the single-employee, single-restaurant complaint resulted in a company-wide investigation and remedy. Click here to read more about the investigation.

In conclusion, if your employee handbook is not kept up-to-date, a small matter may turn into something much larger.

If you need assistance reviewing and updating your employee handbook, please contact our employment group or call 208.344.6000.