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Policy Manuals, Corporate Codes of Conduct and Employment Applications | The Power of Documents

These documents are also powerful, but they do not usually help employees. Sometimes company manuals give employees rights, but for the most part, they contain sophisticated legal language that is designed to nullify employment rights. In general, policy manuals are an attempt by companies to set rules that employees cannot enforce but are required to follow.

Again be wary when the policy manual says, “Just as you are able to terminate your employment at will, we can terminate your employment at any time for any reason.” That translates to: “You have no job security rights whatsoever and we want to be able to terminate you for any bad reason without you being able to sue us.” Likewise the statement, “This handbook is not intended as a contract and we reserve the right to change it at any time,” translates to: “We expect you to comply with this handbook or we will fire you, but don’t expect us to comply with it.”

If you believe that you have been promised some kind of job security, do not sign any acknowledgment that you have read and agree to the provisions of an Employee Handbook. Furthermore, if you receive a handbook with general “at will” language in it and you have been promised that you will not be terminated without cause or for a specified period of time, confirm this in writing and confirm that the handbook “at will” language does not apply to you.

Employment applications often have statements in fine print that you are an “at will” employee who can be terminated at any time for any reason. If that is contrary to your understanding of your arrangement

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