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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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 The earlier papers you signed will be superceded or amended by the terms of the new employee handbook.


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