Wisconsin Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Wisconsin Employee Handbooks: What you need to know

Employee handbooks should be drafted according to the particular needs of each individual workplace and according to 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 Outdated or erroneous policies can be as dangerous as having no policies at all.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.
Wisconsin 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, the Wisconsin courts have held that statements and procedures contained in an employee handbook or policy manual may create an employment contract.
For example, the Wisconsin courts have found and enforced an employment contract based on an employee handbook that required employees to sign an acknowledgment form as evidence of their promise to be bound by the handbook's provisions (Ferraro v. Koelsch, 368 N.W.2d 666 (Wis. Sup. Ct. 1985)).
Many courts allow employers to escape ...

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