Does your brewery need an employee handbook? The answer to this is an emphatic, YES! With several changes in law that went into effect January 1, 2020, now is the perfect time to make sure you have a comprehensive employee handbook in place!
From a staff perspective, an employee handbook provides your employees with a go-to reference to have their questions answered about PTO, dress code, payroll, meal breaks, and other brewery policies and procedures. It also tackles more difficult issues like what an employee should do if they feel they are being harassed at work. It’s convenient for your staff to have all of this information located in one document that is given to them during onboarding.
From an employer standpoint, a handbook helps protect your brewery from legal action. It includes federal and state employment laws that outline your legal obligations as an employer, like compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), being an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE), and at-will employment.
It also provides clear policies to your staff on expectations of employee conduct and what the consequences are for violating those policies. For example, let’s say your brewery has a clearly documented attendance policy in your employee handbook that includes standard working hours and what to do if an employee will be late or can’t come in for their shift. One day, you have an employee who shows up two hours late for their shift and doesn’t call in. A couple of days later it happens again, and then again, and again, and now you have a tardiness issue on your hands! Thanks to your clearly outlined policy in your employee handbook, you can take disciplinary action, up to and including termination if the employee doesn’t correct the behavior, and you are well protected against a wrongful termination lawsuit. You have a documented policy in place that was given to the employee when they were hired. And you can prove they had knowledge of the policy because they signed a copy of the employee handbook when they received it.
Have I convinced you yet? If not, let’s go back to those changing laws I mentioned earlier! As of January 1, marijuana will become a lawful substance in the state of Illinois. This doesn’t mean you can’t protect your brewery from employees showing up to work under the influence of marijuana for their shift. You can still prohibit drug use during their shift or when they are on call for work, if you have a policy in place in your employee handbook.
Also going into effect on January 1 is an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act requiring all employers, regardless of size, to provide sexual harassment training to their staff on an annual basis. And guess what? Bars and restaurants have additional requirements. They will be required to provide a written sexual harassment policy to new employees within one week of their start date.