Updating your employee manual: the latest and greatest (Proceedings)

Updating your employee manual: the latest and greatest (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2009

Why do you need an employee manual?

Your manual is a tool to communicate information to your employees regarding your hospital's policies and practices, benefits, guidelines, leave procedures, expectations of conduct, equal opportunity employment and employment-at-will.

When was the last time you read through your manual in detail? As you review your manual, think about the following issues:

  • Do you follow all your policies consistently? If not, they need to be changed
  • Are any policies and procedures outdated?

Are you current on
  • HIPPA privacy rules
  • Guidelines for cell phone and texting
  • Email and Internet policy
  • Workplace privacy and/or surveillance issues
  • Discrimination and Harassment Policies
  • Employment-at-will statement

Drug free workplace policy

Employers can either chose to ignore or address the issues of drugs in the workplace. There are many benefits of a drug free workplace policy. These include

  • Reduced absenteeism, tardiness and sick leave. Drug users consume almost twice the medical benefits as nonusers. Drug users are absent 1 ½ times more often than nonusers.
  • Reduced employee discipline problems
  • Reduced workers' compensation costs. Drug users make more than twice as many workers compensation claims. Also, many workers' compensation carriers provide a discount to employers who (1) have a drug free workplace policy and (2) drug test applicants as a condition of employment and (3) drug test any employee injured on the job.
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved employee morale and motivation
  • Improved community image

To begin a drug free workplace your hospital will want to follow these next steps
1. Create a written policy
2. Work with a drug testing clinic to set up the drug and alcohol testing procedures that work best for your hospital's size and needs
3. Consider an employee assistance program
4. Educate your employees about the program. It is a common practice to inform employees 6 months prior to implementation of the policy. This allows employees time to seek help if they have a substance abuse problem.
5. Begin training your managers and supervisors.
6. Begin testing of all new employees
7. Where applicable, test current employees
8. Provide assistance and rehabilitation
9. Evaluate your program - make changes as needed
10. Stay current with all federal and state laws and regulations including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • State drug testing laws
  • Americans with Disability Act
  • State workers' compensation laws

As hospitals establish their drug free workplace policies or make the choice not to establish drug free policies they should remember that employees have rights to privacy. Employees have rights from unreasonable searches. Clients expect their pets to be well cared for. Employers have been sued for negligent hiring and for negligent retention of employees with substance abuse problems. A drug testing program that follows appropriate standards for your state will help to protect your hospital, your clients and your other employees.