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Thinking about purchasing an Employee Handbook online? Buyer Beware!


So, it is my first meeting with a client – our agenda: reviewing his current employee handbook. After reviewing this dreadful document, I asked him, “Who wrote this handbook?” Not surprising, he said he purchased it online. This was literally the most disturbing online handbook I have read in years. I was appalled with how many risks I saw that my client was unaware of.

From my experience, key considerations to handbooks include the size of the employer, the number of locations, multi-state considerations and the fact that a handbook sets the tone of expectations; ultimately, it is a communication tool, not just a compliance manual. At HRBoost, we often get into the trenches of handbook analysis with our clients but we ALWAYS advise legal review. The changes in legislation are rampant and fluid – thus even the best of us in HR are well suited to have an employment law attorney on standby.

In case you missed it, Wessels Sherman published a list of the Illinois employment laws enacted in 2013 that we wanted to share with you.

  • Social Media Privacy
  1. Any employee whose electronic communications is unlawfully monitored is allowed to sue for civil remedies, including actual and punitive damages.
  2. Employers may obtain any password or account information related to social media accounts used for business purposes.
  • Medical Marijuana
  1. Individuals who are physician-diagnosed to use medical marijuana must have a physician’s written certification for marijuana use, must register with the state, and possess a valid registry identification card. Then, and only then, can the registered cardholder possess and use marijuana without being subject to arrest.
  2. However, The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act expressly states that “nothing in this Act shall prevent a private business from restricting or prohibiting the medical use of cannabis on its property.”
  • Cell Phone Usage
  1. Drivers are permitted to use a cell phone if they are using a hands-free device (e.g. a Bluetooth headset) or are using the phone in voice-activated mode.
  2. Exceptions to the law:

             – The law does not apply to drivers utilizing a CB radio, a fleet management system, dispatching device, or music player.

             – Drivers using a one button to start or end a call, or have their car in park may also be exempt from the law.

  • Illinois Employee Classification Act (ECA)
  1. An officer of the company can be held personally liable for misclassification in determining whether a worker qualifies as an “employee” or an “independent contractor.”
  • Concealed Carry
  1. “Private employers who wish to prohibit the carrying of firearms must clearly and conspicuously post the approved sign at the entrance of the building or premises.”
  • Prevailing Wage Laws
  1. Employers ordered by a court to pay back wages or final compensation due to a wage and hour claim must pay additional fees ranging from $250 to $1000, depending on the amount owed.
  2. Further, amendments to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act create additional record-keeping responsibilities for employers.
  • Workplace Violence
  1. Employers are permissioned to obtain protective orders when a credible threat of workplace violence is made.
  2. Failure to address a credible threat of workplace violence can result in claims of negligence and prosecution under OSHA’s general duty clause.

So, with this being said, “Buyer beware!” — Just because they call it a handbook, it does not mean it was written for you! Visit us at, send us an email, or give us a call at 847-736-5085 with any questions you may have.  We would love to engage in a conversation that can add value to your business strategy.

Legislation details provide by Wessels Sherman Management – Side Labor and Employment Law


Nicole Martin is Founder and Executive Director of HRBoost, LLC. She is recognized as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resource Certification Institute and carries a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management (MSHRM) with an undergraduate degree in Business and Psychology. She is immersed in world of human resource management every day. HRBoost, LLC. is a Human Resource and Management Consulting firm that is focused on providing custom human resource solutions, systems, training and support to develop and optimize your investment in people. HRBoost offers a full range of services on both a consulting and outsourced basis that allows your business to do what it does best. Helping companies contain costs, minimize employer-related risk, and relieve the administrative burden of HR while creating results that rival big competition.

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