The Growing Importance of the Employee Handbook

With employment-related laws becoming more complex and often in flux, the employee handbook is seen more than ever as a valuable tool for companies and organizations to consider putting in place or to have updated.

But what constitutes an effective employee handbook and how it can help drive employee performance and business growth?

Handbooks provide a framework for:

  • Effectively managing people
  • Disseminating information on compliance law
  • Setting parameters for performance management
  • Establishing expected behaviors in the workplace

Ideally, the employee handbook is a tool provided to new and current employees to guide them with the procedures and policies of the company. It also serves as a communication guide to share information about job expectations, benefits eligibility and company procedures.

For employers, maintaining a comprehensive, updated employee handbook also can help keep compliance trouble at bay. As local, state and federal laws change and evolve – such as paid leave, minimum wage levels and overtime – companies are required to comply with these applicable changes and ensure their employees know their rights and obligations.
So, it’s important to be aware of changes in employment laws and include applicable changes in your handbook.

One other key point: for companies with operations in multiple states, these companies are obligated to comply with employment laws and regulations in each state where they have employees. To this end, it’s a good idea for companies to address each state’s applicable policy mandates in their company employee handbooks.

impactAction: If you have questions about employee handbooks, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

MD: New “Ban the Box” Law Goes Into Effect Feb. 29

Maryland has joined 13 states in enacting a “ban the box” law, which takes effect Sat., February 29.

This new law prohibits employers with 15 or more full-time employees from asking applicants about their criminal history prior to an in-person interview (unless required by state or federal law or when the employer provides services or direct care to minors or vulnerable populations).

Here are several key points for compliance in Maryland:

  • Employers may ask about a job applicant’s criminal history during the first in-person interview or thereafter
  • Employers should ensure their job applications do not ask about criminal history
  • Make sure anyone conducting initial phone interviews is aware of the prohibition

impactAction: If you have questions about this new MD “ban the box” law, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

USCIS Issues New Form I-9

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a new Form I-9 and should be used immediately.

To ensure you’re using the correct, current version of Form I-9, note the form’s “revision date” (10/21/2019) in the lower left-hand corner of each page. This correct form’s expiration date is 10/31/2022.

Key point: USCIS is allowing employers a three-month grace period during which the old form may be used. By May 1, 2020, employers should use only the new form. The new form can be found on USCIS’s I-9 Central portal.

USCIS’s new form, along with several technical changes, clarifies who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer and provides clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9.

As a reminder for Form I-9, all new employees must:

  • Complete Section 1 of Form I-9 on or before their first day of employment
  • Then, within three business days of their start date, they should submit acceptable proof of their identity and eligibility to work in the US
  • Employers must complete Section 2 of Form I-9 within those same three business days

impactAction: If you have questions about Form I-9 compliance, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

OSHA Form 300A Must Be Posted Beginning This Month

Employers must post OSHA Log 300 – a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2019 – in their workplaces between February 1 and April 30, 2020.

This form (OSHA Form 300A) is required for all organizations that employed at least 11 people in 2019 (unless they qualify as part of an exempt low-risk industry). The summary must be certified by a company executive and posted in a conspicuous location where notices to employees are typically placed.

In addition, employers with 250 or more employees are required to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) by March 2, 2020 via OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application.

Learn more.

impactAction: If you need assistance with OSHA compliance, contact us at or 443-741-3900.

Where Do DC/MD/VA Stand on Salary History Bans?

Over the last several years, a number of cities and states across the US have enacted salary history bans to strengthen pay equality. As it stands, 18 states and 20 localities ban employers from requesting salary history from job applicants, according to HRDive.

On this note, here’s a quick guide on current salary history policies in the District of Columbia (DC), Maryland and Virginia:

  • DC Government agencies are prohibited from asking job candidates for their salary histories except when this information is offered by a candidate after an employment offer is made
  • Montgomery County (MD) Government does not ask for and does not use a job applicant’s salary history in making hiring decisions nor when setting pay. In addition, Montgomery County is not permitted to retaliate or refuse to hire an applicant based on the applicant’s refusal to disclose their salary history
  • Virginia State Government agencies, beginning July 1, 2020, will provide an updated application for state jobs that eliminates the salary history field

Key note: neither DC, Maryland nor Virginia includes private-sector employers in its current salary history ban regulations.