Does your HOA have an Employee Manual? It Should!

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Employment-related lawsuits and claims continue to rise; protect your HOA by drafting an employee manual.

Unless your homeowners association (HOA) is run strictly by volunteers, then it has employees. And whether those employees are part-time, full-time, or work on contract, your HOA needs an employee manual. These employees likely have access to personal and sensitive information about your HOA and its homeowners, as well as resident units. Protect your HOA from liability and FLSA - related employment claims by putting in writing your expectations of employees, and what they can expect from you as an employer.

Generally, your employee manual should cover:

  1. Non-Disclosure Agreement and Conflict of Interest statements to help protect proprietary information of your HOA.
  2. Compensation, including overtime pay, pay schedules, time-keeping and breaks.
  3. Anti-discrimination policies.
  4. General employment information, such as policies for leaves of absences, uniforms, attendance, terminations, resignations and employment eligibility.
  5. Employee benefits, whether your HOA offers benefits or not.
  6. Safety and security, such as how to maintain a safe work environment, report injuries and accidents, and what to do in the event of inclement weather. Also include policies around security, like requiring file cabinets and computers to be locked when not in use.

As an HOA, you may have other considerations to include in your employee manual, such as:

  1. Protecting personal information of homeowners kept in office files or computers.
  2. Protecting homeowners’ units if keys are kept onsite.
  3. Procedures for entering units if the homeowner is not present.
  4. Policies for units provided to employees as compensation, such as how to handle injuries or damage in the unit, and what happens if the employee is suddenly terminated.
  5. Employees who leave the worksite for work-related errands.

You can find additional ideas of what to include in your HOA’s employee manual on the Small Business Administration’s website. It’s important to note, however, that employment and other laws vary from state to state and may change often. So while you can begin a draft of your manual using these suggestions, you ultimately should have a labor and employment attorney from your state review (or draft, if your HOA has the funds) your employee manual.

And, just as important as having legal review of your manual is providing each employee with the final manual. Ask them to sign a form stating they have received, reviewed and understand the employee manual and be sure to keep that form in your HOA records.

This article contains general information. Individual financial situations are unique; please, consult your attorney before utilizing any of the information contained in this article.

Source: Florida Condo & HOA Law Blog, SBA.gov
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