Oklahoma Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Oklahoma 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 Outdated or erroneous policies can be just as dangerous as not having policies at all.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.
Oklahoma 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 addition, despite a strong presumption in favor of the at-will standard, the Oklahoma courts have held that statements contained in an employee handbook or policy manual may create an employment contract (Russell v. Board of County Commissioners, 952 P.2d 492 (Okla. 1997)).
Specifically, the Oklahoma courts have held that an employee handbook may create an implied contract between an employer and its employees if traditional contract requirements are met. However, the promises contained in the employee manual must be specific and definite. Vague promises ...

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