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Establishing Company Policies In Nassau County, Long Island

The contemporary workplace has become increasingly complicated as businesses must contend with a variety of laws regarding discrimination, harassment, employee compensation, and workplace safety among others. At the same time, conflicts between employers and employees are not uncommon, often resulting in time consuming and costly litigation.

At Tand & Associates, our highly skilled team of employment law attorneys provides advice and counsel to businesses on how to establish and implement company policies. In particular we work with our clients to design employee handbooks that will ensure compliance with a wide range of employment laws and mitigate the risk of disputes. In short, an employee handbook allows a business to define its expectations, policies, and relationship with the employees and protect the employer in the event of a legal dispute.

Key Elements of an Employee Handbook

Generally, a handbook should start with an introduction, welcoming new employees and explaining the company’s mission statement. It is also important to clarify that the employee handbook does not establish a contractual relationship and that employment at the company is “at-will.” This means that employment can be terminated at any time by either party, with or without reason. From there, the employee handbook should cover the following topics.

Legal Obligations

Businesses are governed by a variety of local, state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • The New York State Human Rights Law

  • The New York City Human Rights Law

In sum, these laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of legally protected characteristics when making decisions regarding hiring, terminating, promoting, demoting, compensating, and any other terms and conditions of employment. The employee handbook should clearly state that the company is an equal opportunity employer and does not tolerate harassment or discrimination based on any protected characteristic under applicable laws.


The handbook should discuss how employees are compensated, whether based on an annual salary, hourly wage, or commissions. The compensation policy should also specify a payment cycle: weekly, biweekly, or in the case of salespeople, monthly. It is also important to note how hours are recorded, how taxes are computed and deducted, and whether employees are eligible for overtime pay. Finally, compensation policies must comply with local, state and federal wage and hour laws.

Employee Benefits

Employees should be notified whether the company offers benefits such as employer sponsored health insurance, and other perks such a retirement plans (401(k)) and profit sharing plans (ESOP), bonuses, stock options and the like. The policy should also explain how employees become eligible for such benefits.

Work Schedules

The company's hours of operation, attendance, hours required each day, rest and lunch breaks, and other information must also be specified. Additionally, employees should be informed when they are eligible for paid time off such a vacation, personal and sick days, and how this time accrues. Finally, the handbook should state whether the business offers flexible work schedules and telecommuting opportunities.

Employee Conduct/Disciplinary Matters

It is essential to establish guidelines for how employees are expected to conduct themselves in the workplace. In particular policies regarding tardiness, absenteeism, misuse of email, internet, and company equipment should be spelled out, as well as key issues such as employment discrimination and sexual harassment. It is also important to notify employees that the workplace is an alcohol/drug free environment.

Depending on the nature of the business, it may also be necessary to clarify whether any legal requirements apply to the company. In some cases, the handbook should establish policies on confidentiality, trade secrets, and noncompete guidelines. The handbook should specify the disciplinary actions that will be taken in the event of workplace violations, up to and including termination.

Work Performance

The company’s review policy should discuss how employee performance is evaluated, what constitutes satisfactory performance and a timeline of when employees will be reviewed. Although the entire policy does not need to be included in the handbook, a general performance review section can mitigate the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Safety Concerns

It is also important to address safety concerns that arise from work conditions, and the steps that should be taken if an employee, or visitor, is injured in the workplace.In addition, matters such as employee disputes, workplace violence, and even inclement weather should also be covered. Depending on the industry, your policies must also comply with rules established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Why You Should Call Tand & Associates

Tand & Associates routinely advises clients on developing employment guidelines and makes recommendations so that handbooks are in compliance with state and federal law. By understanding your business objectives, we can advise you on developing practices that addresses many workplace issues.

We believe our clients should be proactive in establishing good relations with employees and adhering to state and federal law. To achieve this objective, we offer advice and counsel to management on new developments in employment law and conduct human resource audits. By advising you on how to plan, formalize and implement employment policies, we can help your business create a positive work environment and minimize the risk of disruptive litigation.

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