omni hr logo

2024 Employee Handbook Overhaul: Legal Must-Knows for 2024

As businesses navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, employers must remain vigilant about compliance with evolving laws and regulations. The beginning of each year offers a good opportunity to update the employee handbook. Not only should organizations update their handbooks to reflect the organization’s values, but they should also ensure alignment with recent legal changes and/or new laws effective Jan 1st. Continue reading for information about key statutes and laws employers should consider when updating their employee handbooks for 2024.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws: Employers need to be mindful of changes in EEO laws that promote workplace equality and prohibit discrimination. Handbook updates should include the latest information on anti-discrimination and harassment policies, accommodation procedures, and equal opportunity practices, ensuring that the organization fosters an inclusive and diverse workplace. Businesses are advised to look for the EEOC’s final guidance.

  • The Crown Act: Approximately 24 state laws and 40 local ordinances have passed laws prohibiting race-based hair discrimination. 
  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA): Consider including a policy that specifically addresses the PWFA – and look for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) final PWFA regulations.

Form I-9 Changes: Employers who are hiring should review the Department of Homeland Security’s alternative procedure for remote examination of Form I-9 documents and use the new Form I-9. 

Non-Competes: A non-compete agreement should be tailored to the state where the employee works. As a best practice, these need not go in your handbook.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws: Minimum wage and overtime regulations can vary at the federal, state, and local levels. New wage and hour laws typically take effect on January 1st. Employers should review and adjust their handbooks to reflect the current wage and hour laws applicable to their location. Ensure accurate information on minimum wage rates, overtime eligibility, and any recent changes to these regulations.

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Exemptions: Review the 2023 proposed rule awaiting finalization and consider how FLSA changes could affect your business.
  • Pay Equity: A number of states have laws that require salary transparency or that ban inquiry into the wage history of applicants.

Expansion of Paid Leave Policies: Another significant trend in 2024 is the expansion of paid leave policies. Recognizing the importance of supporting employee well-being and work-life balance, many states and municipalities have passed legislation mandating paid sick leave or enhancing existing paid leave benefits. For example, states like Washington and Oregon have enacted laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees for various purposes, including illness, caregiving responsibilities, and domestic violence-related issues.

Employers should become familiar with the specific requirements of these paid leave laws and update their policies accordingly to ensure compliance. By offering robust paid leave benefits, employers can enhance employee morale, productivity, and retention while demonstrating their commitment to supporting their workforce’s overall well-being.

Labor Law Changes: The beginning of the new year is a good opportunity to determine whether an employee could reasonably interpret a handbook policy as having a chilling effect on the their right to engage in concerted activities under a new National Labor Relations Act legal standard.

  • New Rule: Standard for Determining Joint Employer Status is currently being evaluated by the court to evaluate the challenges raised to the Rule’s legitimacy.

Drug and Alcohol Policies: Ongoing shifts in marijuana legalization and attitudes toward drug testing necessitate updates to workplace drug and alcohol policies, including job descriptions. Employers should review and revise these policies to align with the latest laws, particularly in jurisdictions where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal. Clearly communicate the organization’s stance on drug testing and substance use within the updated handbook.

Privacy and Data Protection Laws: With a growing emphasis on data privacy, employers must address data protection laws in their handbooks. Provide guidelines on employee data collection, storage, and sharing, and communicate the organization’s commitment to complying with privacy regulations to protect sensitive employee information.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy: While not required, AI policies are something to think about as employees’ use of AI becomes more commonplace in the workplace. And be wary of using AI in hiring procedures. 

Remote Work Regulations: The rise of remote work has prompted lawmakers to address issues related to taxation, reimbursement, and data/privacy protection. Employers should update their handbooks accordingly to reflect any new regulations governing remote work, specifying the organization’s expectations for remote employees, and addressing compliance with relevant tax laws. Additionally, if an employer’s remote worker moved to a new location this year, significant handbook updates may be required.

Conclusion

As the legal landscape continues to evolve, employers must be proactive in updating their employee handbooks to maintain compliance and promote a positive work environment. Considering and addressing these key legal and regulatory updates for 2024 will help organizations ensure that their handbooks serve as comprehensive guides aligned with the latest legal requirements, fostering a workplace culture built on fairness, transparency, and legal adherence.

Need help making sure your employee handbook is up-to-date for 2024? Contact OMNI Human Resources Solutions at 913-341-2119.

tom nagel

With 16 years of experience in human resources, Tom excels at ensuring that the HR function serves as a true partner. His commitment to building lasting, credible relationships will ensure that he is a valued resource and trusted advisor to OMNI client leaders. Prior to joining OMNI, Tom served as Senior Human Resources Leader at Polsinelli. He has also held HR leadership roles at Terracon and DST Systems. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management at Southern Illinois University. Tom is on the Board of Directors for the KC Care Health Center and has volunteered for Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care and AIDS Service Foundation of Kansas City. 

Share the Post:

Related Blogs

The Power of People: S1 E1

In this episode of OMNI’s podcast “Power of People: Higher Education Edition,” our guest Michael Tracy, Founder of OMNI Human…

New Landings Job Chat: Finding Talent; a Search Firms Perspective

Featuring Michael Tracy

Five Questions Every Higher Ed Leader Needs to Answer

Photo credit: Shutterstock Small to mid-sized colleges and universities are being squeezed. There is pressure to maintain enrollments in shrinking…