Can a new employee handbook be enforced for employees who have been working there without an employee handbook?

UPDATED: Oct 28, 2011

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Can a new employee handbook be enforced for employees who have been working there without an employee handbook?

An employee has left without notice and now my employer has issued us a handbook stating we need to give 30 day notice. We signed a paper in the beginning stating that my state is an at will employment state and we can resign or be terminated at any time. Can this handbook now be enforced on the employees that are already working there?

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, unfortunately this term or condition can be enforced. Employers set the terms and conditions of work; they may alter them at any time, on a forward looking basis (i.e. not with retroactive impact). They can make agreement to the new terms a condition of employment. They can do this even if it goes specifically against previous terms, or alterns employment at will status. And employers do not need to be fair or reciprocal in how they do this; that is, they can change matters to require employees to give notice, without obligating the employer to provide notice of termination. The earlier papers you signed will be superceded or amended by the terms of the new employee handbook.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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