Q: We are revising our employee handbook and were wondering if we must include sections/policies on the following:
Marijuana Use? Not required. In Florida, marijuana use is still illegal (unless prescribed by a doctor), so the topic is usually covered by your “drugs in the workplace policy”, under illicit drugs or those needing a prescription. So I don’t necessarily see a need to address it separately. However, If you have offices in a state where recreational marijuana use is legal (ex. Colorado, Washington) you should review the policy so that it’s clear that –as with alcohol- what’s prohibited is not the use of the drug itself, but rather being under the influence or impaired on the job. That might mean adjusting/changing any pre-employment drug screen that tests for traces of cannabis.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act? Not required. The act is covered under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, so assuming you have more than 15 employees and already have a policy stating that you enforce those provisions, I don’t think you need to spell it out separately.
Social Media Policy? Not legally required, but I totally recommend you include one so that employees are clear on your guidelines and expectations. Just make sure the policy is not overly vague or it could be seen as restricting employee’s right to discuss working conditions.
Domestic Violence Leave? *Not required. A couple of years ago, there was a proposal floated under the Obama Administration to provide mandatory paid leave for –among other things- victims of domestic violence, but the proposal stalled. So, what if you want to be supportive when you encounter a rare situation that would warrant such leave? You can always -at your own discretion- offer discretionary leave. But I would not include it in the handbook (unless you have 50+ employees, see *below) .
Are there other policies that we should consider adding to the handbook to be ahead of the game?
Yes. A policy on “cell phone use while driving” is a must, especially if your employees drive on behalf of the company, whether it’s their own vehicle or a company car. Another “must-“have in my opinion is a policy on sexual harassment. Although sexual harassment is also technically under the 1964 Act, I think it should have its own section because it’s a much more common problem. A good policy describes what constitutes harassment, what it looks like, what to do if encountered and how to report it.
Readers, do you have other questions for sections or policies in your employee handbook?
*NOTE: If you have 50+ employees in Florida this Domestic Violence Policy allowing three days off, applies to you.
Not intended as legal advice.