Ahhh, summer is absolutely my favorite time of the year. Long days, warm nights and some recurring issues in the world of HR! Actually, I do love the weather but not the recurring HR issues and they can be avoided by having an employee handbook with explicit, written policies in place.

Dress Codes – Most office dress code policies are ambiguously written to require professional attire, leaving the specifics open to the interpretation of employees. As temperatures rise, employer and employee perceptions don’t always align. HR folks can nip these issues in the bud by including specific language in their company policy, educating their employees on what is permissible, and consistently enforcing the standards. California employers must also take caution to ensure their dress code policies are compliant with gender and religious discrimination laws.

Vacation – Summer is a popular time for vacation and this can lead to a variety of difficulties for employers who don’t have time off policies in place. Most employers realize that providing opportunities for rest and relaxation makes for happy, productive employees. However, employers usually have the right to deny vacation requests if they interfere with business needs. Having a detailed policy in place that outlines what steps need to be taken to request vacation, including how much notice the employee needs to provide and how the company will deal with competing vacation requests, will help prevent problems down the road.

Attendance – What’s an employer to do when an employee doesn’t return from their vacation on time? How do you deal with any employee who takes unauthorized time off? It’s important that employers not jump to conclusions and give employees the opportunity to explain if their absence was for a legitimate, and possibly legally-protected, reason. Nonetheless, if there is no reasonable explanation or supporting evidence provided, unauthorized absences may result in disciplinary action. Having both attendance and prohibited conduct policies in place ensure employees know what is required of them and eliminates excuses for attendance violations.

Having an employee handbook that explains the company’s policies protects employers and supports employees by providing the specifics on what is and is not permitted in the workplace. I recommend republishing your employee handbook every year for all employees to review and sign off on. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to reaffirm your policies and procedures and ensure that everyone understands the commitments within the handbook.