I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the Employee Handbook for the Office of [insert office name], (“the Office”) and that I have read and understand the contents of the handbook. I understand the handbook is intended to provide me with general information about policies and procedures of the Office that govern my employment.
I acknowledge and understand that employment with the Office is at-will and that all employees serve at the pleasure of the Office. Accordingly, I have the right to resign from my position, at any time, and the Office can terminate my employment relationship, with or without cause, or with or without notice, at any time, except, of course, the Office cannot terminate my employment for discriminatory reasons in violation of applicable federal law. I understand that by signing this Acknowledgment I do not waive my rights under applicable federal law.
I also understand and acknowledge that the Office may unilaterally change or revise, with or without notice, its policies and practices, and such changes may affect the benefits provided therein. Moreover, I understand and acknowledge that the contents of employee handbooks, personnel manuals, benefit plans, policy statements, and the like as they may exist from time-to-time, or other employment practices, shall not serve to create an actual or implied contract of employment, or to confer any right to remain an employee of the Office, or otherwise to change in any respect the employment-at-will relationship between the Office and myself.
I acknowledge that no one in the Office is authorized to make exception to this understanding, except [insert title of the responsible person in your office], who must do so in writing.
(Signature of Employee)
(Member or Designee)
PURPOSE OF THE HANDBOOK This handbook has been prepared to summarize the personnel policies and procedures that are applicable to employees of the Office of ("the Office"). You should read the information in this handbook promptly and thoroughly so that you have an understanding of the policies and procedures of the Office. This handbook, however, cannot anticipate every situation or answer every question about your employment; it can provide only an overview of policies and procedures. It is not an express or implied employment contract or legal document, nor should its contents be considered a strict interpretation of the policies, procedures or benefits that are described in this handbook.
This handbook is effective as of [insert effective date], and it supersedes any and all prior employee handbooks and personnel policies.
In order to meet changing circumstances, the Office reserves the right to change, revise, or rescind any of the policies, procedures or benefits described in this handbook (other than the at-will nature of the employment relationship) whenever, in its sole discretion, the Office deems it appropriate to do so. Policies and procedures are subject to interpretation by the Office, and exceptions may be made in individual cases at the discretion of [insert title of the responsible person in your office]. In addition to the policies contained in this handbook, every employee of the Office has a duty to comply with all applicable Federal laws, Rules of the House of Representatives, the mandates of the House Ethics Manual, and Regulations of the Committee on House Administration (including those contained in the Members’ or Committees’ Congressional Handbook).
All new employees are encouraged obtain and read the following publications upon commencement of employment with the Office, and all existing employees are encouraged to re-review these publications at least once per year. (This requirement is in addition to any mandated Ethics training that employees are required to attend pursuant to House Rules.)
Copies of the House’s Rules can be found on the website of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (under the heading “Official House Information”) at http://clerk.house.gov;
Copies of the Congressional handbooks can be found on the website of the Committee on House Administration at http://cha.house.gov/publications.aspx; and
Copies of the House Ethics Manual can be found on the website of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at http://ethics.house.gov/Media/PDF/2008_House_Ethics_Manual.pdf.
Overtime and Time-Off Plan for Non-Exempt Employees 10
Conflicts of Interest/Ethics in Government Act 12
Outside Employment 13
Political Activities 14
Domestic/Foreign Gifts and Travel 15
Reimbursement for Official Expenses 16
The Frank 17
Mass Mailings 18
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy 19
Non-Discrimination Policy 19
Voluntary Treatment and Counseling 19
Fitness for Duty 20
Discipline for Violation of This Policy 20
Smoking Policy 21
Recycling Policy 22
Use of Official Stationery 23
Safety and Security Policy 24
Office Property 25
Computer Policy 27
Electronic Mail Policy 28
Internet Use Policy 28
Media Relations 30
Open Door Policy 31
Anti-harassment and Anti-discrimination Policy 33
Definition of Sexual Harassment 33
Other Forms of Prohibited Harassment 34
Employee’s Responsibility 34
Performance Reviews 36
Personal Appearance Policy 36
Employee Conduct and Discipline 37
Termination of Employment 40
II. LEAVE POLICIES 41
Leave Policy 41
Annual Leave 41
Sick Leave 42
Religious Holidays 43
Bereavement Leave 44
Military Leave 44
Jury and Witness Duty 46
Leave Without Pay (LWOP) 47
Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) 47
Appendices Appendix A: Employee Request Form for Family and Medical Leave
Appendix B: Employee Leave Request Form
I. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES Management Rights The Office strives to serve the Member’s constituents with professionalism, quality, and dedication. To achieve its goals, the Office, as an employer, reserves its rights to, at any time without prior notice, establish, administer and change wages, benefits, practices and procedures; direct and discipline the staff; make decisions regarding recruitment, hiring, training, assignment, transfer, promotion, demotion, layoff, recall and retirement of employees; establish the services to be rendered, and who shall perform the work and at what rate; take action to maintain the security of employees, facilities and property, including without limitation, inspections, searches and investigations in accordance with applicable laws; establish starting and quitting times, the number of hours, shifts and overtime to be worked; discontinue or close down any part of or all of the Office; expand, reduce, alter or combine any one or more of the Office operations; and take whatever other action is necessary in the Office’s judgment to operate efficiently and effectively.
The failure to exercise these or other management rights shall not waive the Office’s right to do so at any time in its discretion, or preclude the Office from exercising any management prerogative in ways other than those described above.
Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity Policy The Office is an equal employment opportunity employer and, consistent with the Congressional Accountability Act (“CAA”) and House Rule XXXIII, does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, military status, age, marital status, parental status, or any other factor or basis prohibited by applicable federal law. This means that these factors will not be the basis for any hiring, discharge, promotion, pay, benefits, reassignment decision or action, or any other personnel or job action affecting the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Consistent with the CAA, the Office may, however, consider party affiliation, domicile and political compatibility in making employment decisions.
Personnel Records It is the policy of the Office to keep personnel-related information maintained in confidence to the greatest extent practicable. Information from official employee files will generally be released only as follows:
! to the employee at his or her request
! to management with a need to know
Each current employee may review his or her own file upon request and may request copies of any or all information contained therein.
It is important that this Office and the House’s Office of Payroll and Benefits be informed on a timely basis of any change with respect to the following:
! Home telephone number
! Employment Eligibility (Form I-9)
It is your responsibility to inform the House’s Office of Payroll and Benefits on a timely basis of any change with respect to the following:
! Beneficiary designation (for insurance and other benefit plans)
! Number of dependents (for income tax withholding and insurance status/eligibility purposes)
! Marital status (for income tax withholding and insurance status/eligibility purposes)
! Any change in the number of exemptions you intend to claim on your taxes.
In addition, it is important that the Office maintain an emergency contact for each employee (in the event of injury or illness) and that the employee promptly notify the Office of any changes with respect to the emergency contact.
Detailed information regarding the Office of Payroll and Benefits, as well as links to forms and procedures for making changes to the type of information discussed above, is also available at https://housenet.house.gov, under the “Personnel” heading.
Nepotism Members and employees are prohibited by law from appointing, promoting, or recommending for appointment or promotion, their relatives, except as discussed below. Individuals with the following relationship to a Member may not be employed by the Member:
! aunt ! half-sister ! son-in-law
! brother ! husband ! stepbrother
! brother-in-law ! mother ! stepdaughter
! daughter ! mother-in-law ! stepfather
! daughter-in-law ! nephew ! stepmother
! father ! niece ! stepsister
! father-in-law ! sister ! stepson
! first cousin ! sister-in-law ! uncle
! half-brother ! son ! wife
If, however, a House employee becomes related to the employing Member (by marriage), the employee may remain on the Member's personal or committee staff. Similarly, if a Member becomes the employing authority of a relative who was hired by someone else (e.g., the Member ascends to the chairmanship of a Committee or subcommittee for which the relative is already working), the relative may remain on the payroll. However, the Member may not then give that individual further promotions or raises, other than cost-of-living or other across the board adjustments. The statute does not prohibit a Member from employing two individuals who are related to each other, but not to the Member. (See House Ethics Manual at pp. 272-273). Contact the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for further information at x5-7103.
Every employee must certify relationship to any Member of Congress on a certificate of relationship form, available from the Office of Payroll and Benefits in B215 Longworth HOB or at http://housenet.house.gov. If, at any time, the relationship of an employee to a Member of Congress changes, the employee must file an amended certificate of relationship with the employing office.
Payroll Pay is disbursed on the last business day of each month via direct deposit to the employee’s chosen financial institution. Questions regarding direct deposit and possible alternatives should be directed to the Office of Payroll & Benefits at 5-1435.
Attendance Policy Attendance and punctuality are essential to the efficient operation of the Office. Although the Office recognizes that there are situations beyond an employee’s control that may occasionally create absenteeism or tardiness, the Office cannot tolerate frequent unauthorized absences from work or tardiness in reporting to work, because such actions disrupt schedules and create a burden on fellow employees and the Office. Moreover, a Member may not retain an employee on the payroll who does not perform official duties commensurate with the compensation received. (See House Rule XXIII(8)(a)).
Therefore, if you are absent from or tardy for work for any reason, you must speak with your supervisor (or if the supervisor is unavailable, some other management employee), as early as possible before the beginning of the workday or shift. An employee who arrives more than [insert number] minutes after his or her designated starting time is considered tardy.
If you must leave work early, because of illness or other unavoidable reasons, you are responsible for personally notifying your supervisor and obtaining approval before departure. (In an emergency situation, however, an employee should not delay seeking medical attention, but should attempt to ensure that the Office is notified as soon as practicable of the circumstances of an early departure.)
Absenteeism or tardiness that is considered to be excessive, or failure to follow reporting procedures, may subject an employee to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Job Abandonment If you anticipate an absence from work, you should notify the Office as far in advance as possible, so that work schedules and assignments can be adjusted accordingly. If an employee is absent from work for three consecutive work days without notifying or obtaining advance approval from his or her supervisor, the Office will presume that the employee has abandoned his/her position and his or her employment will be terminated, except under extenuating circumstances.
Office Hours Regular hours of operation are from _______ a.m. - ________ p.m., Monday through Friday. Telephones must be fully staffed during Office hours. The Office reserves the right to establish additional or modified hours of operation depending on the schedule of the House.
Employee Classification Employees are classified into one of the following two categories:
1. Employees who are Exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as incorporated by the Congressional Accountability Act, are those who are not required to be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in one workweek. Exempt employees are expected to work whatever hours are necessary to meet the job responsibilities and needs of the Office.
2. Employees who are Non-Exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as incorporated by the Congressional Accountability Act, are those who are required to be compensated for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek.
The employee classification determination is based on the actual job duties and responsibilities of the employee. See the section below entitled Overtime and Time-off Plan for Non-Exempt Employees, for a detailed discussion of overtime pay and work requirements for non-exempt employees.
Lunch Period Lunch periods are established by each employee's immediate supervisor and, in all cases, will be no longer than one hour, without prior approval from the employee's supervisor. Exceptions to this policy will be granted consistent with the Office's leave policy, as discussed later in this handbook, or in cases where a staff member is requested by his or her supervisor to attend a function. Lunch periods for employees are rotated to ensure coverage of the telephones at all times.
Snow Days and Other Contingencies
Employees are required to be at work whenever the Office is open. When weather conditions or other emergencies make it unsafe to travel to and from work, the Office will generally be closed. This policy goes into effect only when the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) has determined that federal government offices are completely closed due to inclement weather, or when the [insert title of person in Office to make decision] has determined that the Office will be closed. In such circumstances, paid administrative leave will be granted to those employees. Employees may determine when OPM has made a closure determination by checking “Operating Status” on the OPM website.
However, if OPM has determined that federal government offices are closed, but the House is in session, employees are expected to report to work unless they hear otherwise from [insert title of person in Office to make decision.] During inclement weather scenarios or other emergencies, employees should keep informed of the Office’s operating status by checking email, blackberries, and otherwise staying in contact with the Office.
Time and Attendance Records Time and attendance records will be kept for each employee. [Insert title of responsible person] is responsible for maintaining proper records for all categories of leave and ensuring that time and attendance are recorded and reported properly by the employees.
Overtime and Time-off Plan for Non-Exempt Employees The Office complies with the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as required by the Congressional Accountability Act.
The basic workweek will consist of 40 working hours for non-exempt employees. The workweek for the Office begins 12:01 a.m. [insert day of week, e.g., Sunday] and ends at 12:00 a.m. [insert sixth day after, e.g., Saturday]. Absent special arrangements or circumstances, all full-time non-exempt employees are expected to work 40 hours per workweek. In addition, non-exempt employees may be asked to work overtime or to be available for duty other than during normal work hours. (This policy and the overtime pay requirements apply only to non-exempt employees. As noted earlier, exempt employees are required to work whatever hours are needed to complete their tasks and are not entitled to overtime.)
Each non-exempt employee is responsible for monitoring his or her hours worked on a daily basis and, if it appears that the employee may be approaching a situation where he or she will end up working more than 40 hours in a workweek, the employee must immediately notify his or her supervisor. Non-exempt employees may not work over 40 hours in a workweek without explicit approval of their supervisors or other appropriate management personnel. In most cases, an overtime preauthorization request form must be completed prior to working overtime. Failure to secure permission from the appropriate supervisor prior to working overtime may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Non-exempt employees will be compensated for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, either in overtime pay at the conclusion of the pay period or in time off during the same pay period. Overtime compensation is paid at the rate of one and one-half times the employee’s hourly wage. Time off will be granted on an hour-for-hour basis during the work week in which excess time was worked (so as to not exceed 40 hours during the work week), or at the rate of one and one-half times the amount of overtime worked during a subsequent work week in the same pay period. Time off or compensation for overtime worked may not transfer from one pay period to the next. Therefore, at the end of a pay period, an employee has worked overtime in excess of any time off taken, he or she will be compensated for the excess at a time and one-half rate.
Holidays, annual leave and sick leave are not counted as hours worked for the purpose of calculating overtime compensation. Non-exempt employees must also complete an individual weekly time record and send it to the [insert title] at the end of each workweek.
Conflicts of Interest/Ethics in Government Act All employees of the Office must strictly comply with the provisions of the Ethics in Government Act, House Rule XXV and other applicable House Rules regarding outside income, gifts, and personal financial disclosure, if required. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the employee to become familiar with the requirements of House Ethics rules as well as the requirements of House Rule XXIII. Failure to comply may be grounds for dismissal.
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has prepared forms for financial disclosure, together with a detailed explanation of requirements of the Ethics in Government Act. Questions regarding financial disclosure may be directed to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at extension 5-7103.
Employees of the Office are not to engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest. In general, a "conflict of interest" is any situation in which an employee’s conduct of his or her job conflicts with his or her private economic affairs. In addition, page 186-187 of the House Ethics Manual extends the definition to situations and circumstances which pose a "risk of impairment of impartial judgment."
Generally, acceptance of gifts, other than from family and close personal friends, is prohibited by House Rule XXV. Therefore, you must contact [insert title of the responsible person in your office] regarding any offers of gifts, money, or other benefits offered by a lobbyist or anyone that has dealings with the Office.
Contact the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct if you have even the slightest concern that particular conduct, including the acceptance of any gift, might constitute a conflict of interest or a violation of House Rules or Federal law.
Employees should err on the side of caution when confronted with a potential conflict of interest and discuss the matter with their supervisor and/or the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Outside Employment Employees of the Office may not secure employment outside the House that conflicts with the performance of their official duties. Further, House employees who engage in private employment may not do so to the neglect of their Congressional duties, on “official time” for which a salary is received from the United States Treasury, or if the employment is gained through the improper use of their official positions. It is the responsibility of each employee to notify _________________ of all outside employment.
In addition, certain employees face limitations on outside employment and earned income under House Rule XXV. All employees assume full responsibility for complying with House Rules and federal law. Contact the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at x5-7103 if you have any questions about outside employment.
Upon separation from employment with the Office, certain employees are prohibited from lobbying certain Members of Congress or their staff for a period of at least one year. For more information contact the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at x5-7103.