Why Every Fund Manager Should Adopt an Employee Handbook (Part One of Three)

In the era of #MeToo, there has never been a more important time for a fund manager to clearly articulate to its employees the adviser’s expectations regarding what is and is not acceptable employee behavior, given that a single rogue employee’s bad behavior could cause severe damage to the adviser’s reputation and expose the firm to potential liability. Employee handbooks play a key role in communicating the employer’s expectations to its employees and minimizing employer liability. For these reasons alone, most, if not all, employers should adopt an employee handbook. Unfortunately, the task of drafting and implementing these policies can be challenging for private fund advisers, many of which are leanly staffed and often lack in-house employment expertise. This three-part series on employee handbooks is designed to assist fund managers that have not yet adopted employee handbooks, as well as provide a benchmark for established managers that have already adopted them. This first article outlines the key benefits to fund managers of adopting employee handbooks, the laws that frequently inform the policies included in handbooks and the administration of employee handbooks. The second article will review the most important policies that advisers should consider including in their handbooks. The third article will explain how advisers can avoid common mistakes when drafting their employee handbook policies. For more on employment-related issues, see “What Fund Managers Need to Know About the Legislative Response to #MeToo” (May 3, 2018); and “Evaluating Pay Equality: Steps Investment Managers Should Consider to Avoid Running Afoul of Equal Pay Laws” (Nov. 30, 2017).

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