Refusal to Sign Policies or Warnings

  1. One of the thorniest problems is that of the employee who refuses to sign anything, either out of fear that signing something will commit them to it (in reality, under the employment at will rule in Texas, the only thing an employee needs to do to be committed to a policy or warning is stay with the company after being advised of the policy or warning - see TEC v. Hughes Drilling Fluids, 746 S.W.2d 796 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1988, writ denied)), or out of a general lack of cooperation.

  2. Below are some methods that employers can use to deal with such issues.

  3. Method 1 - mandatory staff meeting:

    1. Hold a mandatory staff meeting - everyone knows they have to be there or face the consequences of an unexcused absence (remember to count it as work time for wage and hour purposes).

    2. Prior to the meeting, publish an agenda (e-mail; paper memo; supervisors distribute individual copies to their employees and log who gets copies) showing "distribution and discussion of new employee policy handbook / new ____________ policy" as one of the items to be covered during the meeting.

    3. Before the meeting begins, have everyone there sign an attendance log as proof they were there.

    4. The manager who leads the meeting should follow the agenda, especially the part about the new policy issues.

    5. When the time comes to discuss the policy, distribute copies of the new policy to everyone in attendance - have people in charge who will personally ensure that everyone gets a copy.

    6. Discuss the policy in as much detail as is needed to get the ideas across.

    7. Distribute copies of receipt acknowledgement forms to everyone there and ask everyone to sign them and leave them with a designated supervisor at the end of the meeting.

    8. Collect the receipt acknowledgement forms.

    9. After the meeting, publish the minutes of the meeting, with special attention to the facts that the new policy issues were discussed, that everyone in attendance received a copy, and that everyone was asked to return a signed acknowledgement of receipt form.

    10. Keep a copy of the meeting notice, the agenda, the attendance log, the policy, and the minutes of the meeting as documentation that specific employees were given reasonable notice of the new policy.

    11. In the face of all that documentation, an ex-employee would be facing a real uphill battle for credibility if they try to claim at an unemployment appeal hearing that they were never told about a certain policy.

  4. Method 2: publish new policies on computer at log-in - employee must click on an "acknowledgement and agree" button (something like "I have read this policy and understand that it applies to me") that appears only after the employee has opened the policy document and scrolled down to the end - doing that allows the employee's regular desktop screen to appear (your IT staff should know how to code this set-up; have the IT staff maintain reliable documentation showing how each employee went through the process).

  5. Method 3: on warning forms, have spaces for "I agree with the reason for this warning" and "I disagree with the reason for this warning" - ask employees to choose one or the other and sign or initial their choice - if they do, they will be unable to make a credible claim that they never saw the warning (for a sample written warning, see the "Discipline" topic in this section of the book).

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