There aren’t rules for how fre­quent­ly you should update your hand­book, but giv­en laws do change, it’s smart to be proac­tive so you don’t get caught off guard.

An updat­ed employ­ee hand­book helps employ­ees under­stand what’s expect­ed of them, and helps man­agers ensure com­pa­ny poli­cies are followed.

We’ve iden­ti­fied four rea­sons to revis­it your employ­ee hand­book in 2023.

New year, new employ­ee hand­book? There aren’t any hard and fast rules that require your hand­book to be updat­ed at spe­cif­ic inter­vals. But instead of assum­ing it’ll get you through 2023, there are good rea­sons to treat it like the liv­ing doc­u­ment it is.

First, the imple­men­ta­tion of updat­ed, clear poli­cies that both employ­ees can under­stand, and man­agers apply con­sis­tent­ly will help employ­ees feel like they’re being treat­ed fairly.

Next, hav­ing a hand­book that you know is up to date with cur­rent laws (and well under­stood by man­agers) can help reduce the like­li­hood of a claim against your busi­ness. Plus, if an employ­ee or for­mer employ­ee does file a claim, a hand­book can pro­vide valu­able doc­u­men­ta­tion to demon­strate that your busi­ness has equi­table and com­pli­ant work­place poli­cies in place.

Here are 4 poli­cies we think you should pay atten­tion to in 2023:

  1. Per­son­al Appearance/Grooming (CROWN Acts): Employ­ers with dress codes or appear­ance poli­cies need to keep an eye out for CROWN Acts, as these laws gen­er­al­ly pro­tect traits asso­ci­at­ed with race, includ­ing nat­ur­al and pro­tec­tive hair­styles. If you have poli­cies that pro­hib­it afros, dread­locks (a.k.a. locks), or hair past a cer­tain length, they’ll need to be revis­it­ed. Even if you aren’t sub­ject to a law that pro­tects nat­ur­al hair­styles, we rec­om­mend remov­ing restric­tions that are more like­ly to affect employ­ees of a par­tic­u­lar race, sex, or reli­gion, in order to increase inclusivity.
  1. EEO (for CROWN acts and many oth­ers): Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty poli­cies gen­er­al­ly list the class­es or char­ac­ter­is­tics that are pro­tect­ed by fed­er­al and state law. We see a hand­ful of new state-lev­el pro­tec­tions every year, so employ­ers (espe­cial­ly those oper­at­ing in mul­ti­ple states) need to ensure that their EEO poli­cies are up to date.It’s com­mon for employ­ee hand­books to say that they won’t dis­crim­i­nate based on the fed­er­al­ly pro­tect­ed class­es, and then say, “and any oth­er class pro­tect­ed by state or fed­er­al law”. This catch-all is a nice idea, but many employ­ers aren’t aware of all the class­es that are pro­tect­ed by fed­er­al and state law. As a result, they can be caught off guard – and in a law­suit – because they sim­ply didn’t know the actions they were tak­ing were con­sid­ered ille­gal discrimination.That’s why we rec­om­mend includ­ing the full list of pro­tect­ed class­es in the employ­ee hand­book. More knowl­edge is bet­ter. Also, man­agers have a duty to ensure that employ­ees aren’t harass­ing one anoth­er based on their inclu­sion in a pro­tect­ed class. And if your man­agers aren’t aware of the full extent of their respon­si­bil­i­ties, they’re going to have a much hard­er time keep­ing your work­place in compliance.
  1. Sick leave poli­cies: State sick leave laws were trend­ing even before the pan­dem­ic and that hasn’t let up. Even when we’re not get­ting brand-new laws, we’re see­ing expan­sions of the exist­ing require­ments to cov­er more sit­u­a­tions. Giv­en employ­ees’ height­ened aware­ness of how dis­ease spreads and an increased desire to avoid ill­ness, we rec­om­mend revis­it­ing your sick leave poli­cies — even if they aren’t required by law – to ensure that employ­ees are encour­aged to stay home when sick.
  2. State Fam­i­ly and Med­ical Leave: State fam­i­ly leaves, whether paid or unpaid, are being passed at a steady clip. These usu­al­ly inter­act with FMLA as well as ben­e­fits offered by the com­pa­ny, so it’s appro­pri­ate for employ­ers to have this laid out in their hand­book so that both man­agers and employ­ees know when these leaves apply.

Tak­ing steps to ensure your employ­ee hand­book reflects today’s work­place just makes sense. Your com­pa­ny isn’t stag­nant, and the reg­u­la­to­ry envi­ron­ment in which it oper­ates cer­tain­ly isn’t stand­ing still. So, whether you review it annu­al­ly, every six months, or quar­ter­ly, be proac­tive about updat­ing your employ­ee hand­book in 2023. You’ll be glad you did.