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HR Policies: Training, Training, Training

By Mark W. Weisman

Employers often spend time and resources on well-crafted policies, but then do not communicate and train to the policies. Time and again, employers are reminded to review and update their HR policies. Of course, it is important for employers to update policies because statutes change; regulations are revised; and case law is reinterpreted. A new and/or revised employee handbook may need to be rolled out. However, issuance of a handbook – no matter how current – may not sufficiently inform employees of the policies.

Often overlooked is the need to train and re-train employees, supervisors and managers, about the policies, and how they are to be implemented. Human resource policies without training can, and often do, create problems for employers almost as significant as having no policies at all. 
For example, employer drug and alcohol policies often state that employees will be tested if there is “reasonable suspicion” of drug or alcohol abuse or that the employer will conduct random testing. Yet, how many employers provide instruction to their supervisors about what to look for to establish “reasonable suspicion”? How is the random testing conducted?

Policies without regular, on-going training by qualified instructors set traps for employers. If employment litigation occurs, the employee’s counsel will likely inquire about implementation of the employer’s polices and instruction around important questions that arise in the workplace. Lackluster training (or no training at all) permits counsel to argue that the employer may not seriously enforce the policies, and as a result the employer is indifferent to the very policies it claims to promote. 

Employers should not only review and regularly revise human resources policies, but also conduct recurrent training by qualified experts on these policies.