Translation of Employee Handbooks
Employee handbooks are widely used by employers as an efficient way to communicate guidelines to employees about company policies and the employment relationship. Some states with have state law requiring an employee handbook in Spanish or another language native to the employees. Although English is obviously the official language in the US, providing the company policies in other languages may protect employers from lawsuits. Company guidelines in the employee handbook provide information about the company, employee benefits, and what is expected of the employee, including:
- workplace conduct
- personal days
A properly drafted staff handbook is a valuable communication tool for employers. It is important NOT to use employee handbooks templates since these do not take in consideration the specifics of your company. Use employee handbooks templates only as a start point to avoid the legal problems that can arise when the employee hand book is not properly drafted.
For Spanish-speaking workers, a proper translation of employee handbook in Spanish may represent an important channel of communication. Although most of the Hispanic workers speak some degree of English, many of them are able to read/write only basic English. To get a quality employee handbook translation make sure to choose a company experienced in human resources language translation.
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Hispanic Population Job Profile
In one of the more recent studies, 36% of Hispanics who are 16+ have higher end management positions and manual labors jobs. An additional 16% of 16 or older Hispanics were shown to work in off shoots of manual labor such as repairing and construction professions. Nearly 24% of this same demographic have occupations in the service industry, retail and office jobs take up 21%; and the remaining 2% is found in rural vocations such as farming and fishing.
Translation of Employee Handbooks: Why?
It is easy to see from the above stats that the majority of the Hispanic work-force is concentrated in industries where formal education is not highly required, and consequently writing/reading skills in English is not so required. The consequence is that a Spanish version of the Employee Handbook is usually a MUST for companies located in these segments.
A company without an Employee Handbook in Spanish is vulnerable to lawsuits where
the Hispanic employee is unable to read and understand the company's Handbook in English
Another reason for your company to get your employee handbook translated is the new Immigration Act from President Obama and the White House. While providing legal status to previously undocumented workers, President Obama will also Crack Down On Employers.
This means your company will now have access to many of the same Hispanic workers now working legally for your company. If problems with immigration will no longer be an issue for your company, since they will be working legally, you should make sure you follow the law and provide clear guidance for these workers regarding their role, rights, and obligations with the company.
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General Tips for Employee Handbook Translations
1. Take into account federal and state laws. Many states require Employee Handbooks in the employee´s language in case he/she is not able to read in English
2. Provide a means by which employees can complain about harassment or discrimination. You want to know about things going wrong before they become a legal issue.
3. Use language skillfully. Straightforward instructions and information, appropriate tone, and even images where necessary will make your employee handbook more effective.
4. Make sure your handbook is part of your employees' routine. You don't want your document to be forgotten. If it is really helpful and representative of your policies, make sure it is easily accessible and refer back to it whenever communicating with your employees regarding their rights and duties.
5. Keep your handbook updated. Changes in policies should be immediately updated in the handbook. Ask your employees to acknowledge a change in versions of your handbook by answering an email (office workers) or signing a receipt (workers without access to a computer).
6. Do not use employee handbook templates. These templates will do more harm than good unless you completely customize them to address all the specifics of your company.
Spanish Translation Tips for Company Handbooks
Choose the right provider of Spanish employee handbook translation for your company.
You want to get your back covered in case a poor translation results in
misunderstanding of your company employee policies.
Make sure the chosen company is experienced with translation of Staff Handbooks in Spanish. There are best ways of conveying the same meaning of company policies. Only experience will enable a translation company to know these best choices of wording and style
Price is an important component of your choice, but do not ignore all other aspects important for choosing the right translation supplier. Make sure you ask for references, check the kind of clientele already using the supplier's service, and so on. Remember: when translating an Employee Handbook in Spanish you get what you pay for.
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Spanish in the Workplace Laws and Regulation
OSHA Guidelines on Posters in Spanish
Job Safety & Health Poster (PDF)
How to Know if a Spanish Poster, Form, or Document is Required?
In addition to federal labor law posting requirements, most states have also enacted provisions requiring employers to post certain notices within their workplaces in Spanish. Although consulting a lawyer is the best way to know which are your obligations as an employer, a good rule of thumb is to see if there is a Spanish version of an official document such as a poster or a form. If there is a Spanish version, you are mostly certain expected to use it even if not required by law.
Laws on Foreign Language Translations for the Workplace
There are different requirements about when employers must communicate with employees in foreign languages, according to Anne Larson - Ogletree Deakins's lawyer. Some federal laws require employers to provide workplace notices in the language in which employees are literate. Some of them being:
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
- Executive Order 13496
- National Labor Relations Act (only employers federal contractors or subcontractors)
- Immigration and Nationality Act
That is why most large companies will have a Spanish employee handbook available in addition to their standard English version.
The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA)
This act provides employment-related protections to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and it is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. The directive for a Spanish version of information to be provided to Hispanic employees is mentioned through out the act. Learn more: applicable laws, employment law guide, US Department of Labor on the MSPA act home-page.