Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018!
SHRM board member David Windley discusses how unconscious bias can derail workplace diversity efforts.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Though 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 organization, 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 is also responsible for knowing 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 nothing in the handbook creates an “employment contract” with the organization. Employers that have proof that an employee received a handbook may find that it becomes critical in legal disputes.
Employees sometimes misunderstand that by refusing to sign the acknowledgement form means that they are not still held accountable for following and complying with the policies and procedures in the handbook. However, this is not the case as the acknowledgement form merely addresses the receipt of the information and not compliance with the policies.
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 an organization representative write “employee refused to sign acknowledgment” and have the organization 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.
Finally, it is possible for an employer to view the refusal to sign the acknowledgement form as insubordination and therefore, a terminable offense. However, it is important to carefully consider all options prior to taking this action. Employers should consider the purpose for obtaining the signature and the actual effect of the employee’s refusal. Organizations must evaluate the effect against the costs associated with recruiting and replacing the employee following termination. Additionally, employers should uniformly apply any rules resulting in termination for refusing to sign an acknowledgement form.
Employers should make every effort to receive signed handbook acknowledgments from all employees when first hired and at any time the handbook is updated.
SHRM HR Knowledge Center
As a professional member of SHRM, you can receive free, exclusive access to the HR Knowledge Center. Our advisors have many years of HR experience and a wide variety of resources to assist you with your HR questions. You may reach the Knowledge Center at (800) 283-7476, Option #5 or by using the
HR Knowledge Center Request Form.
The HR Knowledge Center has gathered resources on current topics in HR management.
Click here to view and request information.
This material is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should always contact your attorney to determine if this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
HR Education in a City Near You
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies