Paid Sick Leave, Data Privacy, Social Media Top Emerging Topics in Employee Handbooks

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By Yin Wilczek

March 16 — The top emerging issues addressed in employee handbooks are paid sick leave, data privacy and social media, according to a new survey.

In XpertHR's recent poll of 521 professionals from a range of occupations and industries, 79.4 percent indicated that their handbooks addressed paid sick leave. Data privacy was the second most common topic, at 67.2 percent, while social media was indicated by 64.2 percent of the respondents.

At the other end of the scale, only 4.1 percent said their handbooks addressed wearable technology. Medical marijuana was next lowest at 6.4 percent of the respondents.

The third least common handbook item—BYOD (bring your own device)—was indicated by 14.5 percent of the respondents.

The survey was released March 12. It also found that the top challenge for handbooks is keeping current with evolving workplaces and employees, according to 41 percent of the respondents. Keeping handbooks current with changing statutes and regulations was a close second, indicated by 35.6 percent of the respondents.

‘Perennial Challenge.'

“Employee handbooks continue to be a perennial challenge and opportunity for employers,” Peggy Carter-Ward, XpertHR's head of content, said in a release. “The challenges of keeping up with a changing workforce, new laws and just getting employees to read the handbook are not new, yet addressing the evolving workplace issues of paid sick leave, data privacy, and social media are complex.”

Carter-Ward also warned that while handbooks can be an excellent tool to ensure workplace consistency and to inform employees of their rights and obligations, they must be properly drafted so as to minimize potential liability for employers with respect to worker claims.

In other highlights, the survey found that most handbooks are drafted in-house by human resources and then reviewed by an attorney (58.5 percent). Conversely, about 18.8 percent of the respondents said their handbooks were drafted in-house without review by a lawyer.

Handbook maintenance is a task that falls most frequently on HR, indicated by 83.4 percent of the respondents.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yin Wilczek in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at

The survey and release are available at|USAG|HUGMN-2015-0312-HB_Research_Survey_Report|PR_pitch&sfid=701w0000000wLLw.