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Employee Handbook Wins Worker’s Comp Claim

Yesterday one of our favorite clients reported the Oregon Worker’s Compensation Board just ruled in their favor. The key to their ruling was a provision added to their employee handbook.

An employee was moving another employee’s bicycle. The employee drove in circles over and over again, attempting to pop a wheelie. Finally, the employee flipped the bike over, breaking ribs in the process.

According to the employee, this is a worker’s compensation claim. SAIF denied the claim and the employee filed an action before the Worker’s Compensation Board. The board reached its decision in favor of the employer and against the employee based on a handbook provision prohibiting horseplay.

Drafting employee handbooks is a balance between general provisions and specific policies. Obviously, unless they have had problems in the past, no employer is going to have a specific policy against riding coworker’s bicycles in circles over and over again attempting to pop a wheelie. In this case, common sense prevailed and the general prohibition on horseplay saved the day.

A good employee handbook has hundreds of provisions that protect employers in different situations. Does your handbook have a written policy prohibiting horseplay? Think back about other problems you have had in your workplace in the last couple years. Then look at your employee handbook. Does your handbook address those problems?

Each year, you should look at changes in employment law, changes in your workplace, problems you have faced, problems other employers have faced, technological changes and social trends reported in the media and make appropriate changes to your handbook. Or, if you do not want to track these changes, find someone who does and have them suggest employee handbook changes for you.

Your employee handbook will continue to protect you if you update it regularly.

Next week, we will cover 28 Take Charge Employee Handbook Updates for 2009.

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Reader Comments (1)

Love the tricycle! How old were these clients anyway :).
This was an eye-opening legal brief, as usual got me thinking about something I never would have....
February 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGail

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