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making juneteenth a holiday

Making Juneteenth a Holiday? Review Your HR Policies, Too!

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth celebrates liberation from slavery in the United States. The commemoration of Juneteenth started in Texas in 1980, and over the last few decades, it has been recognized as a holiday or observance in most states. More recently, many companies and local governments across the nation have opted to make Juneteenth a paid holiday or day-of-service for their employees and residents. A bill has also been proposed in the Senate to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. 

If you are considering making Juneteenth a holiday at your company, this may be a good time to review or create documentation of your HR policies overall. We’ve organized a few answers to common questions that you may have. 

Free Employee Handbook

Outline your policies as an employer.

Does my business need an Employee Handbook? 

While there is no legal requirement that you have an Employee Handbook, there are situations where you must inform your employees of their legal rights. Drafting an Employee Handbook allows you to distribute information consistently to all employees and it also helps you to communicate your values and expectations as an employer.

It’s important that your Employee Handbook contains the appropriate legal language to keep your company and your employees protected. At Rocket Lawyer, you can make an Employee Handbook for free, or ask a lawyer to review your existing document to ensure that it complies with federal, state, and local laws.

What should I do if I need to change or add to my Employee Handbook? 

Employee Handbooks are not contractual, which means that employers typically can change the contents without consent from their employees. It is important, however, to handle any changes carefully, so that policies remain reasonable and non-discriminatory. 

If you need to change or add to your Employee Handbook, consider the following steps:

  1. Seek input on the proposed change. Collecting employee feedback prior to a policy change can help your team feel included in the decision-making process.
  2. Talk to a lawyer. You’ll want to determine whether your proposed new policy is legal and valid, and that employee unionization or other local restrictions don’t prohibit you from making the change.
  3. Communicate the policy change. If the change impacts your employees’ compensation, benefits, or work schedule, it may be helpful to provide as much notice as possible. While minor changes may be communicated virtually, you may benefit from addressing major changes in person.
  4. Ask for acknowledgement. Depending on the severity of the change, you may also require employees to formally acknowledge that they received the information.

Generally speaking, you aren’t required to reprint your entire Employee Handbook and distribute new physical copies, however it may be a good idea to publish your updated handbook on your employee resources website and make a formal announcement on the appropriate channels. Whenever you make changes to your HR policy, it is recommended that you work with a lawyer.

Do I need a policy about diversity or discrimination in the workplace?

Employers often include anti-discrimination policies or diversity and inclusion statements in their Employee Handbook or on their careers website. This is typically to indicate that they are committed to equal opportunities for employment. After all, employers with diverse workforces are more likely to appeal to a wider range of customers and employees, resulting in increased business opportunities and a variety of new perspectives and ideas. As with any new HR policy, it is best to seek feedback from an employment lawyer.

Ask a lawyer

Employment law can be complex—and the guidelines may change based on your industry and location. If you have questions about HR policies or your existing human resources forms, a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney can review your documents and explain what you should do to maintain legal compliance as an employer.

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