Employee handbooks not only let your employee what you expect of them, it can also protect your company from legal issues. If your company does not currently have a handbook or you're looking to update your existing one, be sure to continue reading.
A Good Employee Handbook
Employee handbooks don’t need to be complicated, but good ones typically contain:
- Your Company’s Anti-Discrimination Policy
- Details of the employee’s compensation, including overtime pay, breaks, and bonuses
- Applicable laws concerning labor, termination, and background checks
- Information about benefits
- Anti-Harassment Policy
The last one, Anti-Harassment Policy, will be the focus of today’s post. Craig Martin, a partner at the law firm Lamson, Dugan, and Murray, recently wrote about this in an article titled, “Employee Handbooks- Your First Line of Defense” on Construction Contractor Advisor. In it, Martin breaks down exactly what should be included in the policy:
- Explanation of what harassment is
- Process for harassment complaints
- The company’s commitment to investigate the claim
- Anti-retaliation clause
What is Harassment?
Any continued intimidating or threatening behavior by one party to another is considered harassment. Many times, people assume the only type of harassment is sexual harassment. While it may be one of the more common forms of harassment, there are many other types, including:
- Sexual Orientation
- Race and Heritage
How the Handbook Protects Your Company
According to Martin, the employee handbook is your first line of defense in a lawsuit concerning harassment. Providing a clear statement against harassment and following through promises of investigation shows your company takes harassment very seriously and that will be taken into consideration in a lawsuit. Martin also states that training your employees on the handbook at least once a year is key to avoiding future issues.
Employee Handbooks—Your First Line of Defense | Construction Contractor Advisor
Trenches are a construction jobsite hazard that happen on nearly every construction site involving dirt work, but, all too often their dangers are underestimated. In fact, trench related deaths in 2016 have more than doubled as compared to 2015. There’s no excuse for allowing a trench related death to happen, but it’s rare that job site supervision suffers criminal charges after one occurs. After the death of a 22 year old New York construction worker, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office took a hard stance against those responsible and announced formally sentenced the on-site foreman last week.
2016 has been a tough year for people that live in ocean-near luxury high rise condos. The Millennium Tower in San Francisco, California, which is home to many of the city’s rich and famous residents, has found itself in the middle of several lawsuits after it was determined to have sunk around 16 inches since its opening in 2008. Now, it appears that it’s not the only luxury tower in America with foundation issues.
It’s been a tumultuous year between several governmental agencies and businesses alike and, because of that, both sides have been repeatedly put into a state of limbo. Three new major rule changes have made headlines, especially in the construction industry, this year, including an injury and illness record keeping and reporting rule, a “blacklisting” rule, and an overtime pay rule.
Modular construction has been heralded by many as the next big thing in building structures quickly and cost effectively. By being able to construct parts of the building in a controlled environment, like a factory, workers can perform more efficiently, comfortably, and safely, ideally translating into shorter schedules and smaller costs. That theory got one of its biggest tests on a new 32-story residential building that recently opened in Brooklyn, NY.
It’s been a strenuous year for leading construction industry groups and American government agencies. Three controversial new rules, that were supposed to have been in effect at this point, have ignited a heated battle, including some lawsuits. New overtime pay rules, a ‘blacklisting’ rule, and an injury illness record keeping and reporting rule have been successfully delayed by leading construction industry groups. Below is a summary of the recent developments:
Working in the construction industry, especially at construction sites, involves a high risk of injury. Some of the most common injuries that construction workers are exposed to may result from falls, falling objects, building collapses, and fires or explosions. Some injuries result in burns, amputation, lacerations, cuts, eye injuries, and broken bones among other things. Considering the high risk of injuries in this line of work, worrying about finances is the last thing you need if an injury occurs that could keep you away from work for a while. Salary loss and medical bills pile up very quickly during such times. Workers compensation is designed to address such eventualities. In the US, the program currently covers over 130 million people. The average wages paid to covered people are in excess of $ 6 Trillion per year.
There have been several new laws in 2016, or new enforcement styles of existing laws, that are ready to make their mark on the construction industry. Among them are the US Department of Labor’s new rules on overtime pay and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. Both laws affect the amount construction employees must be paid and when they should receive that pay, so documentation of employee time sheets and payments is becoming increasingly important. If your company plans to bid on any Federal Government work, violations of these new laws can keep you from getting the job.
2016 has been filled with controversial law changes affecting contractors, like the first increase in OSHA fines in 27 years, OSHA’s new injury reporting rule, and new overtime pay rules. Industry groups have submitted comments hoping to ease the pain on contractors, but have not had any success overturning any of them. The next challenge facing contractors started with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order signed in July 31.
Cranes are not only an extremely useful piece of equipment, but they’re also extremely dangerous if something goes wrong. Each year, there are several crane collapses and other crane related accidents that claim lives. Having said that, the last thing contractors need is for adrenaline seekers to start climbing and playing around on their cranes. The problem is, it’s already happening.
In March 2013, Flintlock Construction was building a hotel at a Manhattan construction site known as the 325 Project. OSHA inspectors visited the site and delivered three separate scaffolding violations that added up to a total of $249,920 in OSHA fines. Flintlock Construction immediately filed an appeal and that appeal was heard in July 2015.