2020 A Guide for Writing a State Legislative Personnel Manual

7/15/2020

Disclaimer

This Guide is provided for informational purposes only to assist in preparing employee handbooks or personnel manuals and is not and should not be construed as legal advice on the matters contained herein or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any employee handbook or personnel manual should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry and practices.

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Introduction

Legislative staffing organizations reflect the diversity of the institutions they serve. In some legislatures, staff functions may be performed by separate offices, each handling a distinct set of tasks for an individual chamber. In others, a centralized group of nonpartisan employees performs a range of duties. The laws, policies and procedures that govern staff can vary among legislatures and between chambers of and offices within the same legislature.

Employee manuals aid legislative organizations in ensuring they operate effectively and efficiently, because they enhance employees’ awareness and understanding of the conditions that instruct and regulate their actions in the workplace. Management decisions supported by established rules avoid perceptions of being unfair or arbitrary, and decisions consistent with those rules may reduce liability exposure. Manuals also can protect an organization and its management by giving supervisors a solid understanding of where their discretion ends and by providing guidelines for handling certain situations that are part of organizational life. Finally, manuals may also instill pride in an organization by clearly defining its mission and history.

The NCSL Guide for Writing a State Legislative Personnel Manual (Guide) was first published in 2002 as a tool for legislative staff managers who wanted to develop new or update existing manuals. The field of human resources policy has evolved dramatically since that time. Legislatures, like all workplaces, are striving to keep up in this changing field. In 2018, the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee’s (LSCC) Legislative Institution Subcommittee embarked on an update to the Guide, with the goal of modernizing its content and including current example policies from a variety of legislatures.

This updated Guide, much like the original, discusses different policies and provides rationales should a legislative agency choose to include them in a manual. The Guide provides example policy language. The first example in each section (labeled as “sample language”) is general and not taken from or shared by any particular legislature. Subsequent examples in each section are excerpted from existing legislative staff handbooks, all of which were obtained in 2019. This language is meant to be illustrative. The Guide is not intended to provide legal advice. Legislative HR professionals, directors and staff should seek state- and legislature-specific legal review and verify the laws applicable in their states when crafting their own manuals.

Additionally, legislatures should avoid addressing certain issues in their personnel manual if the principle of at-will employment applies to their legislative workplace.

Most experts suggest that personnel manuals be updated every year or two, or as laws change, to stay current. The LSCC and NCSL will periodically review and update this Guide in keeping with this best practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required a rapid response from legislative workplaces, those who make decisions about them, and those charged with implementing and guiding related policy changes and protocols. The Guide does not specifically address crafting emergency or contingency plans. However, legislatures may draw from sections of the Guide to deal with shifting workplace challenges and new federal or state requirements spurred by the novel coronavirus. Those sections include:

  • Telework/remote work
  • Use-of-technology policies
  • Leave policies (especially leave related to illness, FMLA, caregiving and paid time off)
  • ADA accommodations
  • Workplace security, safety and health

The LSCC and NCSL wish to thank Howard Schragin and Ann Moscow of Sapir-Schragin LLC, White Plains, N.Y., for their technical assistance, review and counsel.

Principles Governing Employment: Welcome

A written welcome or greeting for new employees is essential, as it conveys a general message of expectations. In small organizations, it is easy for a manager to greet a new employee. Often, the manager has conducted the interview(s) and made the hiring decision. In this case, the manager presumably has time to relay his or her expectations and basic management philosophy to that employee, and a written greeting can serve as a reminder of organizational norms. In larger organizations, the manager responsible for setting personnel policies may not have been directly involved in the hiring process and may have less opportunity to relay this message. A written welcome provides this opportunity.

Written welcomes generally are informal messages and can be brief. The important elements to include are a greeting, a statement of why the information in the personnel manual is significant, and general information about the organization. At the manager’s discretion, the greeting can provide the opportunity to relay a basic philosophy that guides the organization. The greeting could contain a brief statement regarding the organization’s history. It also can serve as a place to explain a leadership philosophy and address the mission of the organization.

Principles Governing Employment: Mission Statement

The value of a mission statement for a legislative agency is only as great as the effort that goes into creating it. To that end, stakeholders from throughout the organization should participate in its development. If the mission statement reflects the collaborative efforts of both supervisors and supervisees in defining the role of the agency, it can help the agency focus on common priorities. If it doesn’t, other staff will have little reason to consider it and even less reason to perform on its basis.

The process of developing a mission statement typically is neither short nor simple. Ideally, employees at all levels will work cooperatively to identify the core functions of the agency, summarizing them in one or two sentences. Several revisions may be necessary before a statement is finalized that reflects the understanding of all staff of the role of the agency.

Once the statement is adopted, it must be shared with all staff and legislators, and it should be used as a guide in determining day-to-day activities and priorities of the organization. The mission statement should never be viewed as a static document. Future challenges will differ from the challenges of today; therefore, the mission statement should not only reflect an ability to adapt to these changes, but also provide an anchor of values and principles that guide all employees.

Principles Governing Employment: Organizational Chart

Legislative staff organizations vary widely in their size and complexity. States with a small staff and relatively straightforward structure may find an organizational chart to be unnecessary. States with large staffs established in different departments may find that an organizational chart can help new employees understand their place in the system.

Examples:

Principles Governing Employment: Introductions

In addition to the welcome message and mission statement, it is generally recommended that a personnel manual include an introduction. The introduction serves to advise employees of the purposes of the personnel manual and to reiterate certain important principles with respect to the manual. These include the organization’s discretion to change policies and the fact that the current personnel manual supersedes prior manuals.

Principles Governing Employment: Disclaimer of Employment Contract

The courts have found that, in some cases, the provisions of a personnel manual can constitute an employment contract unless disclaimers to that intent are present in the document. It is critical, therefore, that state legislative employee manuals include such a disclaimer. It also is recommended that the contractual disclaimer appear early, in a typeface designed to stand out from the remainder of the text (i.e., bold, italics), and be repeated or referenced throughout the personnel manual. It is also recommended that it be repeated in an acknowledgement form at the end of the personnel manual, which every employee must sign upon receipt of the manual. A sample acknowledgment form can be found at the end of this guide.

Principles Governing Employment: Civil Service Exempt and At-Will Employment

Legislatures should ensure the language of the personnel manual reflects the nature of the employment relationship with its employees. With few exceptions, state legislative employees in the 50 states and in the territories are employed on an at-will basis. At-will employment exists when the employer hires an individual for an indefinite time period and either party may terminate the relationship at any time with or without notice, and for any reason. An at-will employee is generally one who serves at the pleasure of the employer—in this case, a legislature.

The employment of at-will personnel is usually not subject to contract, and their status may change for any reason as long as the change is not contrary to applicable laws. The personnel manual should announce this key condition of employment early in the document and describe its meaning. As with the disclaimer, the at-will statement should appear early, in a typeface designed to stand out from the remainder of the text (i.e., bold, italics), and be repeated or referenced throughout the personnel manual. It is also recommended that it be repeated in an acknowledgment form at the end of the personnel manual, which every employee must sign upon receipt of the personnel manual. A sample acknowledgment form can be found at the end of this guide.

General Employee Policies: EEO, Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment

The concept of equal employment opportunity is firmly rooted in our society. Beginning with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and continuing with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991—the categories of individuals who are protected in federal law from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in all terms and conditions of employment have expanded steadily. State and local laws have also evolved, and continue to evolve, to offer more protections.

Moreover, the consequences for committing discrimination, harassment or retaliation have increased significantly. Most notably, to address claims of employment discrimination, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 permits employees to seek compensatory and punitive damages of up to $300,000. State and local laws, in many instances, provide for greater relief than federal law by not limiting the available compensatory and punitive damages.

The first step any employer should take to ensure that all employees work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and in which they can succeed on their own merits, is to affirm its commitment to the principles of equal opportunity employment. An employer should also specify that it prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment. Further, managers and supervisors should receive regular training, on at least an annual basis, to ensure they do not violate the terms of these statutes, many of which are complex. In many states, training is required on an annual basis. The legislature’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, anti-discrimination, harassment and retaliation also should be communicated to employees through official postings within the workplace, which are required by state and federal laws. Each employee’s commitment to adhering to the employer’s policies shall be clearly stated in the acknowledgment form to be completed by each employee upon receipt of the personnel manual.

NCSL offers these guidelines, developed in partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), when drafting equal employment, harassment, complaint and retaliation policies:

  • State that harassment based on protected categories under federal, state and local law (these categories should be enumerated in the policy) is illegal and will not be tolerated. Provide definitions and examples of prohibited conduct, as needed. It is recommended, and required in many instances, that the legislature maintain a separate policy specifically governing sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Explain how employees can report harassment.
  • If possible, designate at least one person outside an employee's chain of command who can receive harassment complaints. Some states are now requiring that employers notify employees about outside agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which can receive complaints about discrimination and harassment, and it is generally a good practice to do so.
  • Consider permitting employees to report harassment to any manager.
  • State that you will protect the confidentiality of employees who report harassment or participate in a harassment investigation, to the greatest possible extent.
  • State that employees will not be punished for reporting harassment or participating in a harassment investigation or lawsuit. Reiterate that retaliation is illegal and will not be tolerated. Consider putting in a statement preserving the legislature’s right to discipline employees for willfully filing false complaints.
  • Require managers and other employees with HR responsibilities to respond appropriately to harassment or to report it to individuals who are authorized to respond.
  • Provide prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of harassment complaints.
  • Provide for prompt and effective corrective and preventative action when necessary.
  • Consider requiring that employees who file internal complaints be notified about the status of their complaint, the results of the investigation, and any corrective and preventative action taken.
  • Describe the consequences of violating the harassment policy.

Legislative organizations should make sure to review state and local laws and consult legal counsel to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements when drafting these policies.

General Employee Policies: Pregnancy Accommodation

Employment policies that adversely affect female employees because of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions constitute discrimination based on sex. Legislatures must ensure that, for example, their leave and benefit policies apply equally to men and women. They also have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to female employees related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, to the extent the accommodation can be made without imposing an undue hardship. In this regard, the legislature should explore with the employee the possible means of providing the reasonable accommodation, which may include such things as allowing more frequent breaks or periodic rest; assisting with manual labor; modifying job duties; modifying work hours or schedules; temporary transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position; or providing a leave of absence. If leave is provided as a reasonable accommodation, such leave may run concurrently with any leave where permitted by state and federal law. Short-term disability benefits may be available in accordance with state law.

General Employee Policies: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodation

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects certain individuals from discrimination in employment. The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to assist qualified individuals with disabilities to participate in the job application process, perform the essential functions of a job and enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. In certain instances, state employees cannot sue for monetary damages but still may seek injunctive relief. The ADA does not supersede state discrimination laws, many of which provide greater protections for the disabled, and may require employers to engage in a dialogue with the employee to determine the best accommodation to assist the employee to work. HR managers should consult with legislative counsel to determine the applicability of both state and federal law in this area.

Legislatures provide opportunities for the public to participate in the legislative process, such as by holding public comment periods during committee hearings. In order to facilitate this participation, legislatures may provide assistance to members of the public with disabilities, depending on the specific disability.

Sample Language and Policies

[Agency or Legislature] is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. This may include providing a reasonable accommodation when appropriate in order for an otherwise qualified individual to perform the essential functions of the job.  It is your responsibility to notify [insert the name of the appropriate person, title department], in writing, of need for accommodation. Upon doing so, you may be asked for your input on the type of accommodation you believe may be necessary or the functional limitations caused by your disability. Also, when appropriate, we may need your permission to obtain additional information from your physician or other medical or rehabilitation professionals. [Agency or Legislature] will not seek genetic information in connection with requests for accommodation. All medical information received by [Agency or Legislature] in connection with a request for accommodation will be treated as confidential.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Legislature is committed to complying with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and affirms its commitment to the goal that individuals with disabilities shall not be excluded from participating in or be denied the benefits of any program, service or activity offered by the Legislature. 

It is the responsibility of legislators and legislative employees to support the goals, objectives and concept of the ADA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act in their dealings with the public, prospective employees, and co-workers.

Nebraska

It is the policy of the Legislative Council not to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of such disability with regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

It is also the policy of the Legislative Council that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of the Legislative Council, or be subjected to discrimination by the Legislative Council.

General Employee Policies: Complaint Procedures

Despite the best efforts and intentions of managers and supervisors, employee problems and complaints can develop that require thoughtful examination and careful resolution. Most state legislative workplaces have developed formal procedures for reviewing employee complaints. Many states have enacted laws that require formal complaint procedures. These procedures ensure that employee concerns are handled fairly and in recognition of applicable laws. They also protect the legislature by providing a standardized process for managing employee complaints.

General Employee Policies: Performance Evaluation

Employees want and need feedback about how they are doing on the job. Managers also need credible, comparable measures of employee performance upon which they can base decisions about promotion, assignments, raises, training, discipline or firing. Performance evaluation systems supply that kind of information. Formal performance evaluation also provides important documentation of an employee’s work history. Done well, the performance evaluation process can be an excellent tool. However, legislative HR professionals advise that if and when evaluations are not done properly, they can become a liability. They can, for example, create unreasonable or unattainable expectations for employees, create poor employee morale, foster poor performance and lack of growth by not conducting honest and objective evaluations, and subject the legislature to claims of discrimination. 

The personnel manual should notify the employee about the performance evaluation system and provide an overview about its purpose and process. It can also lay out similar expectations for managers and supervisors.

General Employee Policies: Immigration Compliance

The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires all employers to verify the employment eligibility and identity of all employees hired to work in the United States. To implement the law, employers are required to complete Employment Eligibility Verification forms (Form I-9) for all employees, including U.S. citizens. The personnel manual should notify employees about the I-9 process and about the responsibilities of the employee under this act.

A new employee must complete section 1 of a Form I-9 no later than close of business on his or her first day of work. The employee’s signature holds him or her responsible for the accuracy of the information provided. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the employee completes section 1 in full. No documentation from the employee is required to substantiate section 1 information provided by the employee.

The employer is responsible for ensuring completion of the entire form. No later than close of business on the employee’s third day of employment services, the employer must complete section 2 of Form I-9. The employer must review the section 2 documentation presented by the employee and record document information on the form. Proper documentation establishes both that the employee is authorized to work in the United States and that the employee who presents the employment authorization document is the person to whom it was issued. The employer must supply to the employee the official list of acceptable documents for establishing identity and work eligibility. Employers cannot ask for or specify which documents from the list they will accept.

The employer must examine the document(s) and accept them if they reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the employee who presents them. Requesting more or different documentation than the minimum necessary to meet this requirement may constitute an unfair immigration-related employment practice. If the documentation presented by an employee does not reasonably appear to be genuine or related to the employee who presents them, employers must refuse acceptance and ask for other documentation from the list of acceptable documents that meets the requirements. An employer should not continue to employ an employee who cannot present documentation that meets the requirements.

Additional information about the I-9 process is available on the website of the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Department of Justice.

General Employee Policies: Personnel Files/Records

Laws vary from state to state regarding employee rights to have access to their personnel files. In states where access is granted through the statutes or constitution, the personnel manual should reference those rights and outline the rules and restrictions for obtaining access to the files. If the legislature determines to allow employee access to personnel records, the personnel manual should outline the process for accessing files and the limits on the types of records that employees can receive. It is not recommended that employees be provided unlimited access to personnel records or files unless required by law. The files should contain pertinent information about the employee’s status with the employer, including, but not limited to, the following: 1) employment application, 2) offer of employment letter, 3) position description, 4) federal, state and local tax withholding forms, 5) benefit documents, 6) performance evaluations, 7) job title, salary and payroll information, and 8) any other documents required by state law. Medical information should be maintained in a separate file with access limited only to those employees who need the information for purposes of performing their jobs (i.e., benefits and leave administration). It is also recommended that I-9 forms and related documents be maintained separately. 

General Employee Policies: Nepotism

Employing the relatives of staff or members within a legislature may create situations vulnerable to the appearance of favoritism. It also may lead to conflicts of interest. A broad exclusion, however, may deprive a legislature of qualified, capable employees.

Some states prohibit public officers by statute from employing, appointing, voting for or recommending the appointment of a family member to any position or employment within state government. The closeness of the familial relationship subject to anti-nepotism laws may extend to only children, parents or spouses. Prohibitions may also include domestic partners, uncles, cousins, in-laws or other more distant relatives. States also vary on the permissibility of hiring a person not subject to the direct supervision of related staff or legislator. Still other states may provide for limited exceptions, such as for an appointee employed for a period of 12 weeks or less.

Personnel manuals generally may have broader anti-nepotism policies than what the law requires. For example, a state that limits the definition of potentially nepotistic relationships to immediate family may allow for policies that prohibit the hiring of more distant relatives. However, a manual could not permit a relationship otherwise prohibited.

General Employee Policies: Political Activities

Few employment issues are as complex or potentially troublesome for legislative staff as those related to political activity. This is true for partisan staff, whose work draws them close to the campaign interests of their elected officials, as well as for nonpartisan staff, who may be uncertain if they may participate in off-duty political activities like voting in a primary or signing a petition. Guidance should be clear and unambiguous.

Staff political activity rules for both partisan and nonpartisan staff typically include prohibitions against using state facilities, equipment and time to pursue campaign goals. Policies for partisan staff may be less restrictive, particularly regarding off-duty activities, but require more detailed descriptions than those for nonpartisan staff. Legislatures should also review state and local laws to ensure they do not prohibit the reliance on off-duty or outside activities as the basis for employment decisions. 

General Employee Policies: Termination/Resignation

Termination of employment policies in personnel manuals should generally focus on voluntary (resignation or retirement) and involuntary (firing) termination of employment. They should outline the required mechanics associated with the separation of employment and what happens to the employee’s benefits upon termination. Policies should also provide the notice required in the case of resignation; require the separating employee to return all property belonging to the legislature, including documents and information maintained electronically; and include any information about the provision of references by the legislature. 

General Employee Policies: Travel Reimbursements for Official State Business

In most states, management must give prior approval for in-state and out-of-state staff travel. The manual should provide information regarding the process for gaining travel approval and the expectations of employees when they are planning to travel on public business, consistent with applicable law and conflicts of interest and ethics policies.

Reimbursable expenses may include:

  • Per diem rates (includes daily meal allowance, including taxes and tips, if applicable).
  • Lodging (set rate or actual and necessary).
  • Transportation.
  • Airfare in lieu of mileage or actual mileage and rate per mile for use of private automobile.
  • Taxis (set amount or actual and necessary with receipts).
  • Compensatory time, if that is the policy for conferences held over weekends.
  • Telephone expenses considered for official business.
  • Incidental out-of-pocket expenses; i.e., tips for baggage handling, tips for taxi/limousine service, etc.
  • Registration fees.

The personnel policy also may make distinctions between in-state and out-of-state travel and the approval and reimbursement rules for each.

The manual should also set forth the steps to obtain reimbursements, such as the requirement that receipts for all reimbursable expenses must be presented to appropriate management personnel upon return from any approved travel on public business.

General Employee Policies: Use of State Vehicle

If employees are expected to travel on state business as part of their responsibilities, their agencies may either offer a state motor pool vehicle or reimburse the employee for use of a personal vehicle. The manual should provide the rules for reimbursement for necessary use of a personal vehicle; e.g., amount of reimbursement per mile per day consistent with IRS guidelines; time limits for submission of claims; need for supervisor’s approval of use; etc. Include any special details, such as reimbursement for travel from employee’s home or work station, whichever is shorter; or whether tolls and parking charges are claimed separately. If a motor pool vehicle is an option, identify how arrangements are made for obtaining the vehicle and note that specific rules may apply and can be obtained from the agency in charge. Also, if state statute describes use of such vehicles, include the citation(s). The manual should also include general rules for the use of state or personal vehicles, including the requirement to have a valid driver’s license and in the case of personal vehicles, insurance coverage; prohibition on use of alcohol or controlled substances while driving; prohibition on use of hand-held cellphones while driving; requirement to use due diligence to drive safely and maintain the security of the vehicle and its contents; requirement that employees notify management of any physical or mental condition or impairment which may impact their ability to drive; reporting of accidents and motor vehicle violations; and revocation of driving privileges.

Work Schedules and Pay: Employment Classifications

Employee classification plans provide a systematic basis for the placement, promotion and compensation of employees. As the legislative workplace becomes more complex and more attractive as a career destination, classification plans have been recognized as useful and necessary components of a legislature’s overall personnel system.

The personnel manual should contain a general description of the classification plan, which legislative entity maintains the plan and, at a minimum, a reference to where employees can obtain copies of the plan and job descriptions. Some state legislatures provide these details in the appendix of the personnel manual. It is recommended that the main text of the personnel manual not be cluttered with lengthy details of the plan.

The manual should also outline employee classifications relating to their work status and eligibility for benefits; i.e., full-time or part-time, temporary or regular, session-only. The manual should also affirm the at-will nature of the employment relationship and that any specific employment classification or classification plan does not alter the at-will employment relationship.

Work Schedules and Pay: Employee Compensation

Personnel manuals include information about when and how an organization pays employees. That information can include the length of a pay period, the timing of when paychecks are issued, an employee’s duty to review his or her pay information, and the method by which the organization issues payment and the process followed if an error is made.

Work Schedules and Pay: Hours of Work

Legislative agencies should develop clear guidelines on the core hours employees are expected to work. Although legislative work frequently requires employees to work well beyond “normal” business hours, managers will want to establish when most staff will be on site. Posting these hours in a prominent place will allow legislators and constituents to know when services will be available to them. Because it is sometimes impossible to know the type and scope of requests made by legislators, good staff support requires availability. Employees should be made aware of the culture of the legislative environment and the additional work hours that typically are required of staff. Managers also should establish procedures for employees to submit a request for excused absences for personal reasons. The policy should also set forth applicable lunch or break periods, restrictions on hours of work and limits on available overtime work.

Work Schedules and Pay: Recording Hours of Work

Employees and managers must maintain accurate records of hours worked, sick and leave time used, and compensatory time accrued or taken. Accurate record-keeping takes on added importance in the public environment and any agency should be able to demonstrate to an auditing entity that all hours are accounted for.

Work Schedules and Pay: Regular and Overtime Pay Procedures and Compensatory Time Policies

Federal law specifically provides guidelines regarding overtime pay for legislative employees. Section 3(e)(2)(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Section 553.12 of the accompanying Department of Labor Regulations exclude legislative employees from qualifying for overtime pay. The only exceptions to this are employees of legislative libraries. Many legislative agencies, however, have chosen to implement overtime policies providing for overtime work and compensation for such overtime work, either in the form of cash payments or compensatory time.

In such cases, employees and supervisors must understand the procedure prior to the time period in which any employee will accrue the hours. The agency also must define the amount and type of overtime pay to be provided to the employee: an employee’s straight hourly amount, straight pay plus one-half the hourly rate, compensatory time, and any other method of calculating or paying for overtime work.

The foundation of any good compensatory time policy requires balancing the desire to compensate dedicated legislative staff for long work hours under pressure-packed conditions of the session with the need to meet the reduced, but still important, work duties in the legislative interim. This has become even harder in the state legislatures as the interim session has become increasingly more active. 

Legislative agencies need to provide planning, accountability, verification and limits to create a fair, uniform and responsible compensatory time policy. Employees must account for their time worked and the compensatory time records must be reviewed by supervisors. Managers need to consider staffing needs (especially during interim periods) to ensure that all core functions are covered.

A state legislative policy may appropriately limit the number of compensatory hours an individual employee can accrue or set expiration rules for their use. Compensatory time limits or expiration rules protect legislatures from the financial liability of carrying large compensatory time balances on their books and encourage employees to use their comp time.

Work Schedules and Pay: Compensation From Outside Source

Legislative staff who receive compensation from a business or person with interests in a matter before the legislature may appear to jeopardize their integrity and dedication to public service. Sections of personnel manuals that address outside compensation often limit the receipt of gifts, honoraria and income earned through secondary employment. Outside employment provisions should require evaluating the risk of a conflict, exercising sound judgment in light of a prospective outside employer’s interests, and considering the type of work to be performed by the legislative staff member.

Personnel manuals may require the disclosure of any employment outside the legislature, but they often do not place general prohibitions on working a second job. Prohibitions on secondary employment often only apply if conflicts of interest are likely to result from a dual role. Part-time employees with limited or strictly ministerial responsibilities may be less strictly bound by outside compensation restrictions, provided no state resources are used for personal purposes, and outside work is not performed while on duty, and no conflicts of interest appear to exist. The legislature should also ensure that there are no state or local laws which prohibit restrictions on outside employment or off-duty activities.

Work Schedules and Pay: Guidance on Flexibility in the Workplace | Flexible Work Schedules | Telecommuting | Work-Life Opportunities/Policies

Flexible scheduling and telecommuting opportunities provide numerous benefits for employers and employees. They help employees manage and improve their work-life balance, which leads to improved employee morale and satisfaction in the workplace. In many instances, it leads to improved employee production, more employee work hours, better employee retention and recruitment, and cost savings for the employer. Beyond the benefits, flexible work policies may also be required as a reasonable accommodation under the disability discrimination laws. A flexible work policy in a personnel manual should set forth employee eligibility for flexible work, requirements on recording work time, any time requirements such as availability for meetings, security protocols for protecting confidential information, safety requirements, and equipment and/or office supply requirements.

Leave Policies: General Leave Issues

Explaining all the nuances and peculiarities of an organization’s various leave benefit programs may make this section one of the longest and most detailed of the manual. Eligibility, qualification and even the benefit itself may depend on employment status, length of service or statutory requirements. Employees may be permitted to accrue leave time in certain cases, while in others the employee must surrender any unused benefit time at the end of the calendar year. If accrued leave time is compensable, the personnel manual should explain under what circumstances and to what extent.

Some leave benefit programs may have restrictions or limitations on their use. Others impose duties or obligations on the employee. Still others caution employees about the abuse of leave policies and warn of consequences should it occur. These issues must be addressed in a clear and concise fashion.

A leave benefit program statement should include the scope and purpose of the benefit program. Most are fairly obvious and need little elaboration. Some, however, may have purposes that are not obvious, and those should be highlighted. An example would be bereavement leave if it is part of the sick leave program.

Some leave benefits are available only to employees who are eligible for other employer benefits, such as pension or health insurance. If hourly or contract employees are eligible for a benefit, it is important to indicate whether their participation is on a prorated basis or on a paid, part-paid or unpaid basis.

Some leave policies—such as jury and witness leave—can pose unique concerns. Although management usually cannot deny any employee leave for jury or witness duty, it can determine that certain classes of employees, such as those not entitled to other benefit programs, are not entitled to leave with pay consistent with applicable law.

Under certain programs (usually statutory or contractual), management is afforded some operational flexibility in returning employees to the position they held prior to extended leaves. If your office has such authority, it should be noted.

In addition, a personnel manual should include an explanation of how new employees are treated under the leave program. For example, new employees may be required to earn leave benefits before using them, while established employees, in anticipation of their continued employment, may take leave advanced to them or based on credit.

As another example, is there a waiting period for new employees before they become eligible for benefits? It is also is important to establish when a recent hire is no longer considered a “new employee,” if this date triggers a change in leave benefits. To the extent possible, state explicitly when this occurs or other pertinent information.

If the employee is permitted to accrue leave time under the benefit program, state when such accrual begins and the amount of time that accrues. Also, specify whether any restrictions are placed on the amount of time that may be accrued and whether there are instances when time does not accrue. The manual should note the circumstances under which employees are eligible or entitled to compensation for accrued but unused leave time. The rules for carryover of accrued but unused leave time and the circumstances under which accrued but unused leave time will be forfeited should be described.

A leave benefit may have limited applicability; it may be available only under certain circumstances, for certain purposes and for limited time periods. For example, the definition of “immediate family” is central to any sick leave, bereavement leave or family leave program. Since each benefit leave program is separate and distinct, the definition may vary from program to program, and from state to state.

An employee often has certain responsibilities when participating in a leave benefit program. These responsibilities can include securing management’s prior approval of vacation leave or timely notice of absence due to illness, supplying copies of the court summons for jury duty, or submitting written medical evidence for certain sick leaves. Employees should be fully cognizant of their responsibilities under each leave program.

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) uses the same definition of “employee” as does the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which excludes employees of a legislative branch (other than the legislative library) from FMLA. However, there are state family leave laws that apply to the legislature, and many legislatures have adopted the provisions of FMLA as policy to remain competitive in the labor market.

A number of states also require sick or safe time to be provided to employees, which may be paid or unpaid depending on the size of the employer and type of leave taken. If the legislature offers such benefits, they should also be specifically described in the personnel manual. There may also be state notice or posting requirements and one method for complying is to include them in the personnel manual.

If a legislative employer offers a leave sharing or donation program (for sick leave, as an example), the manual should detail eligibility requirements for the program, how it will be administered, and any expectations and procedures that employees must adhere to.

Employees also should be made aware of any disciplinary action that may be taken, or penalty imposed, for a violation of the conditions of a leave benefit program.

Below are some samples and guidelines on relevant and more widely adopted leave benefits. These samples are provided for guidance only. Many states have specific laws regarding some or all of the types of leave highlighted in this manual—jury duty, witness leave, bereavement leave, domestic violence leave, paid sick and safe leave, and voting leave. Many states also provide for additional types of leave to eligible employees, including, for example, school visitation or activities, blood donor, emergency responders, crime victims and breastfeeding. It is important that the legislature review all state and local laws to ensure compliance with the various types of leave required.

The following examples of sample language address the issues raised in this section. Be sure to seek the guidance of legal counsel and appropriate state personnel officials when drafting leave policies. In many state legislatures, leave policies mirror, or are based on, those that apply to other state employees.

Leave Policies: Military Leave

Leave Policies: Holiday Leave

 

Leave Policies: Sick Leave

 

Leave Policies: Personal/Administrative Leave

Leave Policies: Vacation Leave

Leave Policies: Family Leave

Leave Policies: Bereavement Leave

Leave Policies: Voting Leave

Leave Policies: Jury Duty and Witness Leave

Two other jury issues should be addressed other than what is addressed above. The first concerns the scope of management’s responsibility to employees who are entitled to paid leave. Jury duty may require an employee’s presence beyond normal working hours or at times other than a regular working day. To avoid assuming any liability for awarding an employee compensatory pay or time in such situations, it is important to indicate that employees are granted no more than their normal number of work hours in any day to attend jury duty. The second concerns the per diem fee paid to jurors. Management’s policy should clearly indicate whether an employee on paid leave is entitled to any such compensation. Jury fees are generally dictated by state law and typically, if the employer pays the employee for time spent on jury duty, the employee is not entitled to compensation from the state. The policy also should address any reimbursement that jurors in your state might receive for travel expenses or meals.

Witness leave brings up similar issues. The written leave program should address the following.

  • Notice requirements.
  • Employees called to appear before a judicial or administrative body or a legislative committee, when the appearance is part of the employee’s job function.
  • Employees summoned before a judicial or administrative body when their appearance is not part of their job function, in a proceeding to which they are not a named party.
  • Employees summoned as a witness in a proceeding to which they are a named party.
  • Employees who are attending their own worker’s compensation or grievance proceedings.

In some states, employees who are attending their own legal proceeding, such as one involving a claim of domestic violence against the employee, may be entitled to safe leave for such purposes.

Under certain programs (usually statutory or contractual), management is afforded some operational flexibility in returning employees to the position they held prior to extended leaves. If your office has such authority, it should be noted.

Leave Policies: Jury Duty

Leave Policies: Abuse of Leave

Employee Benefits: Medical/Health Insurance

Health insurance and related medical policies are among the most important issues to employees, and are, perhaps, the most commonly elected benefits available. To the employer, it can be an important asset in recruitment; depending on how it is administered, however, it also can present a significant demand on management’s time.

Legislative personnel manuals should include a basic description of what is offered and when employees are eligible. It is important to explain the applicable employee deductions, who administers the plan and whether there is an extension for retirees. Employees should be advised where to obtain detailed plan administration, current options and rate information. Because everyone’s personal situation changes from time to time, it is important to state how and when coverage can be modified.

The manual description should be general, covering the availability of insurance, how to obtain it and so forth. Specifics of plans change frequently. The manual should defer to and reference other sources, such as the provider or administrator for current plan(s) offered, the particulars of the coverage and employee cost. The manual should include a disclaimer that the information is being provided as a general guideline of the plan for informational purposes and that the plan documents and summary plan description govern the administration of the plan.

If the legislature offers employees flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts, the manual should also provide a description of these plans. As with health insurance, the manual description should be general, covering the availability of the benefit, how to obtain it and so forth. Specifics of plans change frequently. The manual should defer to and reference other sources, such as the provider or administrator for current plan(s) offered, the particulars of the coverage, employee cost, and compliance with applicable IRS guidelines. Legislative personnel should consult with the appropriate accounting or tax personnel before enacting any such plan.

Employee Benefits: Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides important extended health insurance benefits to certain employees and their dependents. It enables most former staff to continue health coverage for a fee. The personnel manual should notify employees about this program, offer at least a brief explanation of COBRA eligibility requirements, and identify sources for further information.

Employee Benefits: Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation generally provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured during the course of their employment. Although it is significant to individual employees, workers’ compensation programs may actually have more of an effect on the employer because of obligations related to compliance. In all likelihood, state law defines nearly everything from eligibility to the calculation of benefits. Legislative employees also must consider how other leave accruals coordinate with an injury leave under worker’s compensation.

Employee Benefits: Long-Term Disability

Long-term disability is an increasingly valued benefit. Employees should be provided information about what options are available, the applicable rates, and when they are considered eligible for benefits. The description should be general, describing availability of and eligibility for coverage, amount of coverage, and how and where to obtain coverage. Specifics of plans change frequently; thus, by reference, the manual should defer to other sources, such as the provider or administrator for current plan(s) offered and the employee cost. In addition, it is useful to note when changes can be made to coverage.

Employee Benefits: Short-Term Disability

In states with short-term disability programs, both employee and employer need to be aware of how the process is conducted, from initial claims to receipt of payment.

This section should encompass a basic description of the program, including eligibility requirements; benefits; basic administrative procedures such as where and how to file a claim and documentation required; identification of the chain of command to process a claim, i.e., supervisor, office director, executive director, etc.; the interaction of short term disability with other forms of leave such as family or sick leave; and employee rights upon return to work. Other relevant points are whether participation is mandatory or voluntary; if the employee is responsible for payment, partial or otherwise; and which illnesses or disabilities are covered. If the description would be too long, a name and phone number of the agency responsible for administering the plan is helpful, especially if it enables the employee to obtain descriptive material such as a pamphlet or plan information folder.

Most plans of this sort have very strict rules, regulations or laws that affect the rights and obligations of employees, employers and outside administrators. Although the manual information can be somewhat general, it should include a disclaimer or warning for the employee to obtain specific information from the plan administrator if and when a claim occurs.

Employee Benefits: Retirement Plans

The retirement plan offered by a legislative agency can be an appealing incentive for prospective employees. For those who are concerned about stability, it is an important part of the benefits package. Portable pensions can be particularly attractive to prospective employees.

A basic description of any mandatory retirement plan—whether Social Security, a state-only plan, or a combination of both—should be the first item in this section. The personnel office and/or the state retirement system has information that can easily be included in the manual or as a separate booklet, pamphlet or handout. Many retirement administrators also hold information nights or seminars with detailed information that employees can attend even if they are years away from retirement. If possible, include a schedule of when these events occur. The employee share (if applicable), the state match, years needed to vest in the system, and the amount of benefit for various years of service are minimal facts to be included here.

Many states also offer numerous forms of voluntary retirement options in conjunction with the mandatory plan. Whether a 401K, 403B, 457, or other deferred compensation plan, an after-tax investment plan, savings bonds or unused leave sell-back, each available item should be briefly described. Since most of these items will be handled by outside plan administrators, a list of names and contact information also should be provided. If employees are not allowed to contact these programs from their office on state time, this should be explicitly stated.

Agencies need to include a disclaimer that the state takes no position regarding any investment options available to employees and should explain the difference between mandatory and voluntary participation. Some states require participation in a retirement plan but let the employee choose which one; i.e., either Social Security or state retirement.

Again, very strict rules, regulations and laws apply to retirement plans, so it is important to remind employees that specific legal advice is beneficial if they have unique circumstances surrounding this issue.

Each state is so different in this regard that sample language is not provided. Any individual responsible for compiling the personnel manual should obtain information from the state plan administrator and/or personnel officer.

Employee Benefits: Employee Assistance Program

Complex and stressful work environments foster complicated problems for staff that may require specialized help. Recognizing this, and the effect on and benefits to the workplace when staff are working close to or at their full potential, some legislative employers offer access to employee assistance programs (EAP). SHRM defines an EAP as:

“a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting their performance at work, such as marital, financial or emotional problems; family issues; or substance or alcohol abuse. EAPs may also offer a wide array of services covering basic legal assistance and referrals, adoption assistance, help finding elder care services, wellness programs, and more.” 

These programs are designed to help employees on an as-needed basis at minimal cost. SHRM also advises that EAPs can help employers reduce absenteeism, workers' compensation claims, health care costs, accidents and grievances. In addition, they can address safety and security issues, improve employee productivity and engagement, and reduce costs related to employee turnover. Family members of the employee also may be able to access the benefit.

SHRM advises HR professionals to communicate about an EAP to increase employee knowledge and awareness of the benefit. Information in a manual should cover a basic description of what is offered through the EAP and how an employee can initiate participation, or under what circumstances participation is mandatory. It also is helpful to list the specific services provided, the EAP provider, whether there is any cost, and whether leave status is accorded during an employee’s participation. Emphasis should be placed on the confidentiality of EAP services.

Procedures for management related to using an EAP for disciplinary or corrective actions need to be well-defined. Guidelines must be in place that dictate the circumstances under which this can be invoked.

Workplace Conduct: Codes of Ethics and Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest definitions and prohibitions often are included within staff codes of ethics. Some states highlight the importance of conflicts of interest by making them a separate topic. Ethics codes describe the importance that legislative staff demonstrate the highest standards of conduct while performing legislative duties. Reference to a state’s statutory ethics code for public officials and employees is a good idea, even when this is supplemented by agency-specific or chamber rules.

The idea that conflicts of interest should be avoided provides the underlying rationale for several different types of rules. Nepotism prohibitions, for example, seek to eliminate the risk of conflict between familial relationships and official responsibilities. Rules relating to gifts or compensation from sources outside the legislature are designed to protect against the appearance that personal financial interests improperly influence the actions of public servants. These specific rules provide clear guidance and bright-line limits in common situations that may create an apparent or actual conflict of interest.

There are innumerable situations that could result in a conflict. This makes it impractical, if not impossible, to feature a specific prohibition for each possible scenario. General conflicts of interest provisions are designed to capture situations not addressed by more specific prohibitions.

Workplace Conduct: Confidentiality

Balancing transparency with confidentiality can be challenging for anyone working in the public sector. The ability of staff to work effectively requires appropriate respect for the principles of confidentiality and discretion. If legislators cannot trust that their interactions will not appear in social media or the news, they may not be willing to engage frankly with employees or make requests related to sensitive matters. Inappropriate disclosures may reflect poorly on the individual, the department and the legislative institution. Disclosing certain kinds of confidential information may even subject staff to criminal or civil liability under some states’ laws.

At the same time, public disclosure rules require some information to be shared. Ethics rules may allow exceptions to confidentiality requirements or place a duty upon staff to report otherwise confidential interactions if they may involve misconduct.

Policy manuals may default to treating all work done for legislators as confidential unless explicitly told otherwise. Other policies default to treating all reports as public information unless explicitly instructed otherwise. In either case, employees need guidelines to determine when information must be kept confidential, when it may be disclosed, and when information must be disclosed. An overall agency policy may be supplemented by exceptions for special circumstances. The policy should also clarify that other information, such as personnel records, medical information and other employee, constituent and vendor related information, should be kept confidential.  Additionally, references to applicable state laws should be included where relevant.

Workplace Conduct: Absenteeism and Tardiness

A manual should stress the importance of reliability, dependability and teamwork. Employees need to understand how their actions affect their colleagues, the department, the agency and the legislature. The policy on attendance should set forth the attendance requirements and potential disciplinary action for poor attendance or tardiness. It should also provide any applicable notice requirements and call-in procedures.

Workplace Conduct: Personal Appearance and Dress Code

Most employees understand what is and what is not acceptable to wear in the office. However, the introduction of “business casual” has created some confusion at many work sites to this day, particularly as the definition of “business casual” continues to evolve. Good grooming and professional attire at all times should be stressed. If business casual is to be incorporated into a policy, the parameters and exceptions should be clearly stated. The policy should also account for necessary accommodations for physical disabilities and/or religious beliefs.

Workplace Conduct: Substance Abuse

State legislatures are committed to providing drug-free work environments. Personnel policies should firmly support this commitment. These policies also should:

  • Put employees on notice that substance abuse will not be tolerated. Employees should sign a consent form that they understand the policy and will agree to be tested as permissible under applicable law.
  • Treat everyone equally. Enumerate situations when testing will be required for drugs—pre-employment, after an accident, randomly, and for cause (reasonable suspicion) or as otherwise permitted under applicable law. If someone tests positively and goes for treatment, monthly testing may be required to guard against relapse.
  • Give supervisory personnel guidance about when they should intervene with employees who are acting suspiciously.
  • State when employees will be referred to the employee assistance program for counseling and for rehabilitation.
  • State what happens if an individual tests positive for drug use.

It is legal to give tests to determine the illegal use of drugs by employees and to make employment decisions based on such test results, but such policies must be applied equally to all employees.

Read and have your legal counsel check the latest interpretation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act with respect to pre-employment drug testing or as part of the onboarding process. Some interpretations of the act would require that the employee or job applicant be notified of the investigation and that his or her permission be obtained.

Workplace Conduct: Employee Discipline

In addition to outlining the specifics of disciplinary procedures, some states identify specific infractions upon which action will be taken. This policy is not intended to create undue concern for typical employees; rather, it makes clear which activities are not tolerated. However, it is important to restate the at-will policy along with any such list, and to make clear that the list is not exhaustive or all-inclusive. It is also recommended to avoid mandatory progressive disciplinary policies, if possible, and to ensure that management maintains the discretion to enforce disciplinary action against employees, up to and including termination of employment, for any infraction.

Workplace Conduct: Workplace Violence

The personnel manual should describe the philosophy of zero tolerance for any kind of violence and provide details about unacceptable behavior and practices and related penalties. Employees must not engage in intimidation, threats or hostile behaviors, physical abuse, vandalism, arson, sabotage, use of weapons or bringing weapons on to organization property, or any other act that, in management’s opinion, is inappropriate in the workplace. In addition, employees must refrain from making offensive statements regarding violent events and/or behavior. Employees are expected to report any prohibited conduct to their supervisors.

Employees should directly contact proper law enforcement authorities if they believe there is a serious threat to the safety and health of themselves or others.

Consistent with applicable law, the organization should enact a policy that prohibits the possession and use of concealed weapons on organization property. This guideline applies to all employees, contract and temporary employees, visitors and customers on organization property, regardless of whether or not they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

Prohibited weapons may include guns, knives or swords with blades over four inches in length, explosives and any chemical whose purpose is to harm another person.

Workplace Conduct: Capitol Security, Safety and Health

Employers should endeavor to provide a workplace that is secure, safe and healthy. Personnel policies should outline the responsibilities of all parties in the pursuit of these goals and provide information about emergency procedures and safety training and resources.

Workplace Conduct: Use of Technology Resources

Legislative technology systems and resources provide valuable tools to support legislative business. As with all other facilities and equipment provided by the legislature, these resources, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, software programs and state or legislative data and networks—are owned by the taxpayers of the state and are governed by the legislature. These resources should be managed in a manner that maintains the public trust and confidence in the legislature. To protect the legislature and its employees, legislative staff agencies usually adopt a policy outlining guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate uses and current law pertaining to computer data and technology resources.

General Guidelines:

  • Users of information technology systems must respect the privacy of others, and their intellectual property or data.
  • Users of technology should have no expectation of privacy when using legislative technology and resources.
  • Users shall respect the legal protection provided by copyright and licensing laws to software and data.
  • Users shall protect the integrity of the computer system and follow all security policies and procedures. Users shall not intentionally propagate unauthorized programs, harass other users, or infiltrate a computer or computer system.
  • Users shall use only functions and components of the computer system for which they have been authorized.
  • Users shall not damage or alter the software or other components of computers or install or download unauthorized hardware or software.
  • Users shall not intentionally seek information, obtain copies, modify files or data, or share passwords without proper authorization. Users shall also be required to make sure that management has all applicable passwords for access to technology systems.
  • Users shall exercise best judgment in use of technology systems and shall not engage in any illegal activity while using technology, including the prohibitions on discrimination and harassment.

Workplace Conduct: Use of Personal Devices

The use of personal devices in the workplace is increasingly common. Although some legislatures prohibit connecting personal devices to legislative networks, others are adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies that allow staff to work using their personal laptops, tablets and smartphones instead of or in addition to using state-owned devices. These policies typically impose safeguards to protect legislative networks and data from security risks.  

General Guidelines:

  • Personal devices may be connected to legislative networks only if authorized in advance.
  • A limited amount of support will be provided for personally owned devices when used in support of legislative business.
  • Use of a personal device for legislative business or on legislative networks may subject users to certain trade-offs, such as:
  • User agreement that the legislature is not liable for damaged, lost or stolen personal devices.
  • User agreement to use a password or other authentication and to install security and software updates. The employer should also enact security protocols, including use of strong passwords, installation of antivirus and other protective software, and backup requirements.
  • User understanding that information on the device may not be backed up or retained and may be wiped if a device is lost or stolen.
  • User understanding that your activity or information may not be private.
  • User understanding that email or certain other information may be subject to public records laws.
  • User understanding not to use personal devices for any illegal activities or any conduct that violates the legislature’s policies.
  • Legislatures should decide which class of employees will be allowed to use their personal devices, and which types of devices may be used.
  • Legislatures should also outline any monitoring that will be done of employees through their personal devices.
  • Legislatures should be aware of potential overtime issues resulting from use of personal devices outside of normal work hours and place restrictions on such use if necessary.
  • Legislatures should also review and revise current policies and protocols that may be affected by BYOD practices. This might include adjusting record-retention policies to cover data on employee-owned devices; revisiting data breach protocols to ensure they cover situations where sensitive data is compromised; changing your expense reimbursement policy to address employee-owned devices; and revising equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment policies to cover activity involving personal equipment, including employer monitoring.

Workplace Conduct: Use of Social Media

Social media has become part of many workplaces. It can foster connections with constituents and professional colleagues and provide access to resources. Use of personal social media accounts, however, can interfere with work responsibilities and productivity. Legislative policies may specifically address social media accounts used for official legislative purposes and address legislative employees’ use of personal social media accounts during work hours. These policies can dictate whether an employee is permitted to use personal social media during the workday, what employees should or should not post, or what employees should be aware of when deciding whether to post something.

General Guidelines:

  • Sharing confidential or privileged legislative information on social media is prohibited.
  • For personal social media accounts, users are encouraged to be clear that they are not speaking in an official capacity or as a representative of the legislature.
  • Users may not engage in illegal activity or violations of policies, rules or regulations, including harassment and discrimination.
  • Users may not post any content that conflicts with the employee’s duty to his or her employer and the state.
  • Users should not post material which adversely affects the reputation and/or business of the employer.

Workplace Conduct: Public and Media Relations

Employees should understand exactly who is authorized to have discussions with the media. Errors in this regard could be highly embarrassing to legislators and the agency. It is executive management’s prerogative to decide if a formal press policy is appropriate or necessary, but formal guidelines always are helpful to staff.

Personnel Manual Acknowledgment

It is important that management have a record of each employee’s receipt of the agency or legislature’s personnel manual. This creates a record that the employee has been provided with the rules that govern his or her employment and notes the employee’s responsibility to read and be familiar with them.