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Creating an Employee Handbook

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If I had to create an employee handbook, how would I address state, federal and international laws, if any, in regards to privacy??

What would be some ethical considerations involved in this process??

Can you please give detailed information these two matters? Thanks.

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Solution Summary

This solution explains how to create an employee handbook, including such topics as addressing state, federal and international law in regards to privacy and some of the ethical considerations involved in this process. An example is provided of an existing employee handbook, as well as two articles on privacy and ethical considerations in this creation process.

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Please see attached file for my response to your questions for best formatting (some of which is presented below). I have also included three highly relevant articles and numerous other sources that you may find helpful. I hope this helps and take care.


Hello Rudy,

I will answer your questions in the order that you presented them.

1. "If I had to create an employee handbook, how would I address state, federal and international laws, if any, in regards to privacy?"

For two excellent exemplars, you may want to check the following on-line employee handbook for the topics to include: http://www.tamug.edu/hrd/online_employee_handbook.htm http://www.rocsc.com/Resources/RezinHandbook2%20w-VC%20%281%29.htm http://www.waelks.net/OffEmpHandbk_10-01.htm. You will see the kinds of topics included in an employee's handbook.


Before addressing the ethical issue of privacy, let's look at some general information of employee handbooks. In fact, most companies and business owners need to provide their workers with a handbook that spells out the company's benefits, policies, procedures and more. Although the employee handbook will reflect the company's procedures and policies, some of the topics that are included are:

--At-will employment;
--Pay and payroll;
--Workdays and hours;
--Performance evaluations;
--Discrimination and harassment;
--Complaints and investigations;
--Health and safety.

This overlaps with your second question, as privacy is an ethical issue that must be guaranteed in the employee handbook. Each of the following policies must be given ethical consideration which written up in the handbook:
· At-Will Employment
· ADA Compliance
· Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment
· Equal Employment Opportunity
· Business Ethics and Conduct
· Conflicts of Interest
· Outside Employment
· Non-Disclosure
· Access to Personnel Files
· Time Keeping
· Pay Deductions
· Use of Telephones and Pagers
· Overtime
· Use of Equipment and vehicles
· Employee Conduct and Work Rules
· Attendance and Punctuality


An employee generally has four sources of privacy rights within the workplace:

? Constitutional (state and federal);
? Statutes (state and federal);
? State common law;
? Contract (refer to attached articles "Privacy" for a fuller explanation of how each of these).
Within every workplace there is a constant competition between the interest of the employer and employee which directly impacts these privacy rights:
? Employer interest in securing and maintaining information about a job applicant or employee that must be disclosed to others;
? Employee interest in limiting the acquisition and use of such information;
? Employer legitimate interests which require observation and regulation of employee conduct;
? Employee interest in general autonomy and being free of employer regulation and surveillance inside and outside of the workplace (Source: http://www.rendermagazine.com/April2001/LaborandtheLaw.html).
The attached file "Privacy' contains two articles. The second article by Douglas G. Mooney (2002), "Privacy In The Workplace" is also very informative and explains in an easy to read format how privacy is dealt with in the workplace.
In an employee handbook, privacy may be addressed under "confidentiality." For example, one company writes this:


* Employees will hold in strict confidence all information gathered from all records. Exceptions to this policy are as follows:

1. Pertinent information will be shared among Elks employees to aid in staff orientation, supervision, education and in the development and implementation of the Therapy Program.

2. To law enforcement agencies as required by the Washington State law.

3. To Child Protective Services, in accordance with RCW 26.44.030.

4. To hospital or emergency medical personnel for the purpose of dealing with an emergency. (Source: http://www.waelks.net/OffEmpHandbk_10-01.htm).

For a California company, the employee handbook must guarantee your compliance with all of the California labor codes.
· California Labor Laws,
· Federal Labor Laws,
· OSHA Requirements,
· Dept. of Fair Housing and Employment
· plus a host of other agencies that monitor the rights of employees Otherwise, your rights as an employer are non- existent.

2. "What would be some ethical considerations involved in this process?"

Ethically, a company can expect fair and equal treatment of all its employees and this fair and equal treatment could keep a company out of court. This fair and equal must be guaranteed in the employee handbook.

a. Ethical considerations to due with policies and procedures

? When there are no policies in place, past and present actions become policy. The fact is that many of these practices either are, or can be considered to be discriminatory because of a lack of consistency.
? Every company that fails to spell out it's policies will have greater exposure to law suits and claims with government agencies because the company did not state in a clear and concise manner the expectations of it's employees.
? Be aware that you can say either too much or too little. Manuals which are more than 50 pages long could be full of implied contracts.
? Every employee needs to know what is expected of him/her and what he/she can expect in return
? By establishing well-written policies, a company can expect fair and equal treatment of all it's employees and this fair and equal treatment could keep a company out of court.

b. Ethical considerations support company policies and procedures.

Once a company reaches 15 employees, an Employee Manual is a must because: Federal Civil Rights, Americans with Disabilities, and Pregnancy Leave Acts all apply. Your handbook must include these ethical issues.

Cover-ups and money laundering, insider trading and out-right theft, corrupt practices and conflicts of interest. It's no small irony that even though business ethics courses are now required in most business schools, more and more organizations are getting into trouble for unethical behavior. And human resources professionals are often caught squarely in the middle. In 70% of the organizations surveyed by the Ethics Resource Center, the creation and enforcement of ethics policies and procedures rest within HR. Meanwhile, HR professionals are feeling pressured to compromise their organizations' ethical standards to achieve aggressive business goals. What is the "right" thing to do in any given ...

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