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How do you handle an employee who refuses to sign the employee handbook

A good employee handbook gives members of your team the information they need to be a productive, valued employee.

The employee handbook can include daily routines, like start times or how to call in sick; details about time off, benefits offerings, enrollments, and other perks. It must include information about employee rights, legal compliance, and how to file complaints and inquiries. Perhaps most important to protect the business, the handbook must include company policies, procedures, and rules.

How does an acknowledgment form protect business?

A signed acknowledgment form can insulate a company from liability for certain infractions.

No employee should be surprised they’re being fired. They should know it’s coming and have had an opportunity to correct poor performance or behaviors. That begins with an employee handbook they’ve read and understood. Acknowledgment of the handbook is necessary: adhering to its terms for all employees is critical.

Without acknowledgment that they knew the rules and ramifications, however, you could be arguing policy as well as performance as you attempt to correct behavior or sever the employment arrangement.

How do you handle an employee who refuses to sign the handbook?

Some employees could refuse to sign off on an employee handbook acknowledgment form.

Consider whether signing the acknowledgment should be a condition of employment. If a new hire, or existing employee,refuses to sign, you should if they should be a part of your team. Unless there is a legitimate reason not to sign, acknowledgment should generally be mandatory.

Need to build a new employee handbook or update and existing one? PayNortheast provides a step-by-step handbook builder, part of our HR360 platform for HR professionals.

If an employee refuses to sign, but separation is not possible, businesses do have other options. An HR representative can note on the form that the employee refused to sign, but was issued a copy of the handbook and informed all policies in the handbook apply regardless of their refusal to sign.

Another option is to have two staff members, one from Human Resources and a manager from the employee’s department, review the contents of the Handbook with the employee, answering any questions about rules and policies.

At the end of the meeting, both staff members should note on the employee’s acknowledgment page the employee refused to sign. They should also include the date, time, names and signatures of those who discussed the handbook and its contents directly with the employee.

All employees should be notified of the terms and conditions in the handbook apply to every staff member, with or without their signature. Remember to include all signed (or unsigned) forms in the employee’s personnel file. An employee handbook acknowledgment form is an important tool for businesses and employees. Make sure yours is current and your employees understand what it holds.

Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax, legal, benefits, financial, or HR advice. Since rules and regulations change over time and can vary by location, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance.


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