Why you should be updating your employee handbook now to adjust to the challenges of the past year

My wife and I watched a few Hallmark movies during the past holiday season. All of them seem to have the same theme. Boy meets girl; they fall for each other; and then, because they don’t communicate how they feel about each other, they go their separate ways. Years later, they reconnect.

The sad part, though, is that they have wasted years of their lives, which they can’t replace. They wish they had told each other of their true feelings. They wish for a do-over. Reality says you can’t go back and undo the decisions made years ago.

Finding “the one” that the movies talk about is truly a life-changing event. However, the act of dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s is what will keep your love alive in perpetuity.                                                                 


Once, as a young married man, while struggling to handle two jobs and four children, I forgot my wife’s birthday. That was an expensive mistake. There were lots of tears on her part, and lots of remorse on my part, and it is something I have never lived down. I knew better. I had written the date down and, somehow, I forgot it. I often have wished for a do-over.

For many of us, when we look back over our lives, we remember the times when we were too busy to complete some tasks, which had serious repercussions long term. Then we wished — or still wish — for a do-over.

Procrastination can be defined in many ways. According to the dictionary, it could be delaying a task, hesitating, vacillating, or even kicking a can down the road. It all boils down to knowing that you should do something that you have delayed or avoided doing.

Several things come to mind in business. COVID-19 is still prevalent in the workforce and there are many federal, state and local mandates determining what employers can and cannot do regarding employees with the virus. Have you updated your employee handbook to keep up?

Megan Bell, an employment practices underwriter for Rockwood Insurance, recently sent an email regarding an expected sharp increase in employment-related claims in 2021. 

Some of the concerns, which need to be addressed in your employee handbook, are the direct result of the coronavirus pandemic and the civil unrest of the past year.

For instance, have you addressed employee safety, including washing hands, social distancing and wearing a mask; vaccination requirements; wages and hours; and medical privacy and discrimination?

Another example of an issue that should be addressed in the employee handbook is the issue of recreational drug usage, which many states have recently voted to approve. The federal law that prohibits the use of drugs still supersedes the states’ acceptance of recreational drugs. Propane marketers need to maintain a drug-free environment. That includes many prescription drugs, too.

While you are revisiting your employee handbook, you should review and, if necessary, rewrite the section on drivers and equipment operators. Do you have a clear policy in place regarding distracted driving and progressive discipline? Waiting until your company has a serious employee situation to update your employment manual will make you wish that you could have a do-over. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced some people to face their own mortality, others have largely ignored the reality that the virus could infect them and that it could be fatal. No matter what you believe, we all have an expiration date built into us. Why not take the time to take care of your family’s and your company’s future by providing for them with a will or a trust right now? While I am not in the business of selling life insurance or personal lines, I am in the business of assisting owners of propane companies to fill any gaps in their homeowner’s and personal automobile exposures along with their other assets. This duty also means inquiring whether or not wills and trusts are in place.   

What have you put off in 2020 that you can still fix in 2021? Make sure you and your company are not in a situation where you will be looking back and wishing for a do-over.  

Frank Thompson is a chartered property and casualty underwriter based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the owner of PT Risk Management, an independent insurance company specializing in writing propane and petroleum risk policies throughout the U.S. Visit

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