Missouri Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Missouri 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. Outdated or erroneous policies can be as dangerous as no policies at all.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, include prominent disclaimers clearly stating that employment is "at will," 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.
Missouri 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.
In keeping with a strong presumption in favor of the at-will standard, Missouri courts have held that there is no "handbook exception" to the at-will employment rule. Courts in Missouri have stated that employee handbooks are generally not considered contracts because they lack the traditional prerequisites of a contract.
For example, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to uphold an employee's contract claim that was based on general and discretionary policy statements contained in an employee handbook (Johnson v. McDonnell Douglas Corp.,

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