If my employer recently re-wrote the employee handbook/company policies, are they required to have all employees sign the new document to acknowledge the changes?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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If my employer recently re-wrote the employee handbook/company policies, are they required to have all employees sign the new document to acknowledge the changes?

If I refuse to sign, would that be considered a resignation or termination?

Asked on October 21, 2015 under Employment Labor Law


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is not a legal requirement that employers have workers sign the employee handbook, although it is a good idea since the handbook outlines the policies of the company. Further, employers don't have to require employees to sign an acknowledgment whenever an updated handbook is distributed, but again this would be a preferable practice.
The purpose of a signed acknowledgment is to demonstrate that the employee has not only received the handbook but is also responsible for knowing the information contained within it. Although, employees sometimes misunderstand that by refusing to sign the acknowledgement form they are still held accountable for complying with their employer's policies. The acknowledgement form simply demonstrates the receipt of the information and not compliance with policies.
Finally, while an employer cannot force an employee to sign the handbook, if an employee refuses to do so, it is possible for an employer to view the refusal as insubordination and terminate the employee. At least so long as the employee has no protection againts this action pursuant to an employment contract or union agreement. Additionally, if an employee is terminated for not signing, their treatment cannot constitute some form of actionable discrimination or retaliation.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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