Minnesota Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Minnesota Employee Handbooks: What you need to know

Employee handbooks should be drafted according to the particular needs of each individual workplace and in accordance with the requirements of state and federal law. Employers should try to develop policies and procedures that reflect the company's size, employee needs, and company philosophy. Employers should have an attorney familiar with state labor and employment laws review their handbooks for legal accuracy and timeliness. Outdated or erroneous policies can be as dangerous as no policies at all.
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Employers should exercise caution when developing handbooks and related policy statements. To avoid implied contract claims, employers should issue only general statements of policy in employee handbooks and should always include an explicit statement reserving the right to alter, amend, or change any handbook policy at any time and for any reason.
Minnesota is an “employment-at-will” state. Therefore, an employer may generally terminate an employment relationship at any time and for any reason unless a collective bargaining agreement, employment contract, existing law, or recognized public policy provides otherwise. Despite a strong presumption in favor of the at-will standard, however, the Minnesota courts have held that specific statements in an employee handbook or policy manual may create an employment contract.
For example, in an unpublished opinion, the court upheld an implied contract claim based on a statement made in an employee handbook that employees were entitled to progressive discipline before discharge (Kotera v. Natrogas, Inc., No. C7-00-47 (Minn. App. Ct. 2000)).
Many courts allow employers to escape potential contractual liability ...

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