Washington Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington 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 Outdated or erroneous policies can be as dangerous as not having policies at all.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.
Washington 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 Washington courts have held that promises ofspecific treatment contained in an employee handbook or policy manual may constitute an employment contract.
For instance, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that, under Washington state law, an employee handbook promising that the employer would provide workers with a "reasonable opportunity" to improve performance created a promise of counseling and progressive discipline before termination (Messinger v. U.S. Bancorp, 205 Fed. Appx. ...

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Washington Employee Handbooks Resources

Type Title
Checklists Employee Handbook Checklist
Policies Employment at Will—Handbook Receipt
See all Employee Handbooks Resources