December 09, 2020

Have You Updated Your Employee Handbook for 2021?

by McKenzie Swisshelm

An up-to-date employee handbook is essential for any cannabis business. It is a valuable resource that can improve a business’ productivity and profits, protect a company’s interests against employment lawsuits, and ensure employees understand the expectations for their performance and behavior. 

For many cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary, and other cannabis verticals, the idea that an employee handbook is needed sounds unnecessary to a lot of business owners. However, employee handbooks don’t just exist for when things go right – they’re there for when things go wrong. There are three primary reasons why crafting an cannabis-specific employee handbook is a must.

A solid employee handbook should contain clear and consistent policies concerning dispensary or cultivator culture, workplace standards, and employee behavior. Handbooks should also be reviewed annually to ensure full compliance with evolving employment law. 

Five Benefits of an Updated Employee Handbook

Do more for your business, learn the top five ways an audited and updated employee handbook will benefit your cannabis business, regardless of your company size.

1. Help Defend your Company from Employee Lawsuits

When your company is sued for employment related claims, including but not limited to violations for meal breaks, rest breaks, overtime compensation, discrimination, or harassment, one of the first things your attorney will ask you to hand over is the employee handbook. The employee handbook is important because it is the de facto manual for your business operation, policies that were communicated to your employees in writing. In fact, the employee handbook is a standard question on court provided form interrogatories often used in discovery. Thus, even if your attorney doesn’t ask for it right away, opposing counsel will most definitely demand it be produced. If you don’t have an employee handbook, opposing counsel will likely use the absence of a handbook to prove the absence of any consistent policies or procedures upon which employees are treated.

2. Set Expectations for Employees and Management

It is important to set expectations for all employees and management. It is important that new employees understand what is expected of them, which may range from appropriate work attire to cell phone use during business hours. If employees understand what is expected, then they also know what not to ask for. In addition, many times business owners are too busy to oversee the day to day operations of the company and hire a manager to help deal with employees and certain business issues. However, even the most experienced managers will make a call that has seemingly insignificant impact, yet will cost the business heavily (i.e. holding on to an employee’s final paycheck for more than 72 hours). An employee handbook will help guide managers in your absence.

3. Treat Employees Consistently

Companies that operate on unspoken and unwritten policies create situations where employees believe they are being treated unequally and unfairly. An employee handbook is a place for employees to be comforted that they are not the only one required to request vacation in advance or that they were not the only one required to wait until the following month to enroll in company sponsored health insurance and 401k benefits.

4. Inform Employees of of their Rights and Benefits

The employee handbook exists to alleviate the burden from your company’s human resource representative from explaining the myriad of policies and benefits to each employee and for every new employee. In addition, employee handbooks can bring employees’ attention to company sponsored benefits and encourage participation, oftentimes such participation benefits both employees and employer (i.e. 401k, health savings account, etc.).

5. Inform Employees of of their Rights and Benefits

Lastly, the employee handbook will reaffirm, if there were any doubts, that your company adheres to all state and federal rules and regulations related to labor and employment.

Does your cannabis business need expert HR advice with developing or updating an employee handbook?

The best way to determine if your marijuana operation is at risk of facing lawsuits or other compliance issues is to speak with one of our consultants to review your workplace practices. Request a consultation today to make sure your business is compliant with all labor laws.

Get Help With Your Handbook

McKenzie Swisshelm

McKenzie Swisshelm is the Marketing Manager for Greenleaf HR and Worklogic HR. She produces effective content like a fifth-year wizard but with a knack for strategic marketing, crafting digital strategy and, of course, Charms. In more wanky marketing muggle jargon, her specialties include setting metrics and reporting systems and then refining all of the above to impact an organization’s core business objectives and drive top line growth.

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