Richard Rabin Quoted in The Hedge Fund Law Report on Employee Handbooks for Fund Managers

The Hedge Fund Law Report has quoted Akin Gump labor and employment partner Richard Rabin in an article series on the topic of employee handbooks for fund managers.

In part one, “Why Every Fund Manager Should Adopt an Employee Handbook,” the publication reports that there has never been a more important time for a fund manager to articulate clearly to its employees the expectations regarding what is and is not acceptable employee behavior.

Rabin said the spotlight being shined on employee behavior is brighter than it has ever been because of the #MeToo era. When adopting a handbook, there are certain policies, Rabin said, “that an investment advisor will want to have in place on day one, including anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, along with the corresponding reporting process for an employee to follow in the event that the employee feels that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed.” It is also important, Rabin said, for an advisor to determine who is in the best position to administer the handbook’s policies.

The second article, “Ten Key Policies Fund Managers Should Include in Their Employee Handbooks,” examines several policies advisors should consider including in their handbooks, including, said Rabin, one stating that retaliation against any individual who reports harassment or discrimination, or who participates in an internal investigation into such issues will not be tolerated. He said there should also be a statement that all employees will be treated the same “regardless of gender, race, religion or other protected categories, and makes employment decisions without regard to those factors.”

As part of these policies, Rabin suggested including an internal complaint procedure that directs employees to report any form of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. In addition, he suggested including within the handbook a certification regarding the use of personally owned devices, such as smartphones.

In the third article, “Ten Common Mistakes Fund Managers Must Avoid When Adopting or Updating Their Employee Handbooks,” Rabin said advisors should adopt an untailored template and make sure the handbook “accurately reflect[s] policies that are in place at the advisor.” He also warned against using an employee handbook provided by a professional employer organization (PEO), since it could require an advisor’s employees to abide by it.

Two other mistakes to avoid, Rabin said, are failing to update a handbook in a timely manner, which is largely dependent upon the advisor’s capacity and the jurisdiction in which it operates, and the adoption of aspirational or employee-friendly policies. He explained that the handbook should reflect what is routinely occurring and should be a baseline for what the advisor knows with certainty will occur at the company.