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Employee Handbooks: Getting it Right


We see it all the time:  Employers use employee handbooks and written personnel policies that are ambiguous, don’t fit their practices, or don’t comply with Oregon or Washington employment law.  Unfortunately, such carelessness yields unnecessary exposure to employee claims that are often messy, time consuming, and expensive to resolve.

For example, we recently encountered an ambiguous policy on paying employees for unused vacation time on termination of employment.  The employer’s written policy promised to make such payment, but it failed to mention the employer’s intent to exclude certain salespersons (who were paid on commission rather than an hourly wage or salary).  The employer believed this exclusion was obvious, but their former salesperson didn’t see it that way.

If you are an employer, chances are that you have policies covering some or all of the following topics:
-    Wages (including overtime pay)
-    Vacation pay
-    Sick pay
-    Paid holidays
-    Medical leave
-    Jury duty leave
-    Sexual harassment
-    Equal employment opportunity/non-discrimination
-    E-mail/web surfing
-    Code of conduct
-    Dress code
-    Drug and alcohol use
-    Grievances
-    Termination procedures

At Slinde Nelson Stanford, our Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle business attorneys will help you get it right.  Your policies must comply with the law, fit with your actual practices, and be clearly worded so as to avoid confusion.  We encourage you to review your written personnel policies today - putting it off could prove costly.

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