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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

Colorado employers should include disclaimers in employee handbooks

Colorado employers should review their handbooks for proper safeguards. Disclaimers and policies help keep workers and employers on the same page.

As a Colorado-based employer, you may already understand the importance of a well-written employee handbook. While you want to help new hires understand their role and how the company operates, you should also include disclaimers to protect yourself and your business.

Standard disclaimers

With a standard employee handbook disclaimer, you clarify that the handbook’s contents do not create an employment contract between you and the reader. If the position qualifies as at-will employment, the disclaimer may mention that, too. By including the phrase, “at the company’s discretion,” you leave yourself space to apply, alter or do away with policies under the right conditions.

Legal protection

One reason to cultivate a well-written at-will employment disclaimer is to save yourself legal trouble. You do not want a disgruntled former employer hitting you with a lawsuit because she or he misinterpreted the offered position as a permanent one. As long as you terminate an at-will employee for a legally valid reason, you save yourself the time and money of enduring a wrongful termination or discharge lawsuit. Make it clear from day one that employees agree to at-will employment positions.

Room for clarification

Another reason to spend considerable time on employee handbook disclaimers is to leave room for interpretation on employment matters. Employers and employees must understand “room for interpretation” does not give companies the right to dismiss their own words in handbooks they wrote. Instead, it means that if a situation arises in which a company encounters obstacles to interpreting their policy for unclarified circumstances, they have room to interpret their policy.

For instance, the handbook may note that employees cannot use more than four personal days a year for absences related to bad weather. If a powerful blizzard hits Colorado and makes it impossible to travel for weeks, a company may need to alter how many absent days workers may use for inclement weather. Another option under such circumstances is giving workers more time off without counting it against their number of leave days.

Right to change policy

Consider adding a section to the employee handbook about your right to modify handbook policies. This measure becomes vital for employers who do not have the time or money to update their handbooks as often as they prefer. Whenever federal or state employment regulations and laws change, your handbook may need to change along with them. You may also want to make sure your handbook always reflects your most current company culture, values and size.

Does your employee handbook include all necessary disclaimers? If not, or if the document could use an upgrade, consider contacting a Colorado legal representative well-versed in employment law. You must take measures to avoid unnecessary legal complications and misunderstandings.

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