Each month, ASA Association Partner Federated Insurance presents its HR Question of the Month. This time, Federated takes a look at revisions to company policies.


When we revise a company policy, can we just send the updated policy to our employees or should we also have employees sign some type of acknowledgement form? If the latter, what do we do if an employee refuses to sign the acknowledgement form?


As a best practice, employers should give employees an opportunity to review any revised policy and to ask questions about the policy's terms. Employees should sign and date a statement acknowledging receipt of the updated policy and agreeing to comply with it.

The acknowledgement statement should make clear that the revised policy supersedes any prior ones. The employer should retain the signed acknowledgement form in each employee's respective personnel file so that there is a record of receipt and agreement to comply.

Depending on the circumstances, an employer may be able to condition continued employment upon each employee's agreement to comply with the updated policy. In general, any employee who, without justification, refuses to comply with the updated policy can be disciplined, up to and including dismissal, if employment is otherwise at-will and if consistent with the employer's policies and past practices.

That said, an employee may have a legitimate reason for refusing to comply with a particular policy. For example, the employee’s sincerely-held religious belief might prevent compliance, or the employee might perceive the policy to compromise safety or violate public policy. The employer should evaluate the employee's individual concern and take responsive measures as the situation may warrant.

Certainly, if there is merit to the employee's objection, the employer should take appropriate steps to remediate, depending upon the applicable facts. If, however, the employee lacks legitimate justification for refusing to comply with any revised policy statement, the employer may be able to take disciplinary action, as noted above.