An employee handbook is a compilation of the policies, procedures, working conditions, codes of conduct, compensation and benefits, and behavioral expectations that guide employee actions in a particular workplace and facilitates the employer/employee relationship.
An employee handbook was originally presented at the January 12, 2016, Board meeting and was approved by the Board at that meeting. This version of the handbook covered only non-represented employees. A meeting took place in February 2016 with the unions and, after collaboration and constructive input from the unions, agreement was reached on the handbook for all employees. The final handbook was presented to the Board at the March 15, 2016, meeting as a briefing and applied to all Health District employees effective March 16, 2016.
On February 13, 2018, the handbook (Exhibit A) was presented to the full board and applied to all employees effective February 14, 2018. All employees were required to sign the updated acknowledgment form as requested in an email on that same day (Exhibit B). The updated items were updated references to Deputy Director, added compensating travel (4.07), work week change, sick leave updated to comply with the Washington State sick leave law initiative, sick leave conversion for employees enrolled in the consumer directed health plan (CDHP) and additional floating holiday for nonexempt staff.
In reviewing the handbook, it was discovered there were items that were outdated. Below is a summary of some of those changes:
- There were references to Health Officer as the Director of the agency, will now need to read the Administrative Officer. Also, references to Administrator, will now need to be updated with the Administrative Officer.
- Section 1.02: With the new Strategic Plan the handbook needed to include the District’s updated Vision and Mission statements, and Organizational Values.
- Section 4.12: There are some references to section numbers that had been moved due to the addition of a section in 2018. The references don’t make sense anymore.
- Section 5.08: 5.09 and 5.10: With the addition of the state’s Paid Family & Medical Leave program, the handbook needs to be updated to reference the program. Also, with the new program, some leave was replaced which is no longer in existence.
- Section 5.20: Health Savings Account sick leave conversion was added last time and the edit to this section is from 600 hours to 480. This means that if an employee elects to convert sick leave to HSA funds then they must leave a minimum of 480 hours in their sick leave balance after conversion.
- Section 5.21: On July 25, 2021, Washington State passed a new law to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, RCW 1.16.050. The District’s union contracts reference the RCW and will be included as a holiday for employees.
- Section 5.22: Bereavement leave was updated to reflect the practice of the District in providing up to 40 hours of leave instead of the 5 days of leave. The language means the same but it caused confusion and questions for staff.
- Last item that needs to be incorporated into a new section within the handbook, is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) language. Previously to the COVID-19 pandemic, the District had rarely employed temporary staff. Staff are working with Summit Law in adding the language to the handbook to reflect the practice. The District is using a look-back period of 12 months; if the employee averages 30 hours/week then they are offered medical insurance.
In addition, the Human Resources manager will be working with the Equity Trauma Informed Leadership Team (ETILT) to review the handbook for other suggested changes. The items listed above are time sensitive and need to be updated as soon as possible. If other changes are identified in the review from ETILT, they will be brought through the committees as another request.