While not required by law, employers should consider requiring employees to sign the employee handbook acknowledgment form. In addition, employers may require employees to sign an acknowledgment whenever an updated handbook is distributed.
Because an employee handbook outlines the policies and guidelines of the company, it is an important part of the employment process for employees. The purpose of a signed acknowledgment is to demonstrate that the employee has not only received the handbook but also understands the information contained within the handbook. Depending on the language in the acknowledgment form, signing this form can also demonstrate that the employee understands the “at-will” statement and that the employee does not have an “employment contract” with the company. Employers that have proof that an employee received a handbook may find that it becomes critical in legal disputes.
An employer cannot force an employee to sign the handbook acknowledgment. However, if an employee refuses to sign a handbook acknowledgment, an employer does have some options. One option would be to have the employee write “I refuse to sign acknowledgment” in his or her own handwriting. Another option would be to have a company representative write “employee refused to sign acknowledgment” and have the company representative and another witness sign the form. If a legal issue arises, the employer then has documentation indicating that the employee was asked to sign the acknowledgment form and was aware of the handbook.
Employers should make every effort to receive signed handbook acknowledgments from all employees when first hired and at any time the handbook is updated.
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