Should what we think of as the personnel policy be called Employee Handbook or Personnel Policy?
Sometime in the past, legal counsel advised a library system I was involved in, that the term "Employee Handbook" is correct. The document under now review at my library has what amounts to the rules of employment - typical sections about what the library provides, what we expect the employee to do etc. and does have a page acknowledging receipt of the document.
So what should it be called?
Ooh, an ontological question!
I am not sure about the basis of the past legal input mentioned in the question, differentiating a "policy" from a "handbook," but I (mostly) agree with it.
I (mostly) agree with it because, in both state and federal labor law, the term "policy" is generally used to refer to a stand-alone set of rules governing the terms of employment. Examples of policies required by law include:
In both common usage and in the law, when such policies are gathered together, they become a "Handbook." Many times, at the advice of lawyers, employers then annually distribute a copy of this "Handbook," and (as in the member's question), require employees to acknowledge it.
The tricky thing is that once an employer has taken the step to pull the policies and create a "handbook" (again, with the name not being important...the important part being that there is some collection of policies, distributed to employees), the law may put additional obligations on the employer regarding the content.
For instance, Labor Law Section 203-e (6), which bars discrimination on the basis of an employee or their family member using reproductive services, states: " An employer that provides an employee handbook to its employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under this section" [emphasis added]. In other words: if the company has no handbook, there is no mandatory inclusion of the notice...but if there IS a "handbook," the notice must be part of it.
The term "handbook," used to mean a collection of employee policies, is also part of the recently passed HERO Act. It takes the same approach as Labor Law 203-e: if a handbook is handed out to employees, the required Airborne Infectious Disease Plan must be distributed with it (or at least, in the same manner as it is distributed).
Now, for the member's precise scenario: What about when a document that really is just one "personnel policy," but has different sections/rules and a section for the employee to acknowledge receipt?
Based on how the various employment laws in New York use "policy" and "handbook," I feel very comfortable saying that any document that aggregates an employer's rules on more than one topic (say, "progressive discipline," "appropriate attire" and "vacation") and is distributed to employees is--no matter what you call it--a "handbook."
Or as I have put in this illustrative limerick:
One rule to another said: "Look,
Here's something that has me quite shook
We rules stand alone
In a "policy zone"
But together, we are a handbook!"
Thank you for a chance to do this research and to write this dubious verse about it.
 Of course, "policy" is also used in other ways in the employment context. A big example: it is often used in the NY Civil Service Law, which frequently refers to the development of "policy" (meaning governmental positions). Second, it is used in the context of different types of insurance required of employers (a workers' compensation insurance policy, a paid family leave act policy, a disability insurance policy...etc.).
Huh. I have never thought about it before now, but we should really develop some more refined terms for different "policies."
 New York Labor Law 201-g
 New York Labor Law 218-b, aka the "HERO Act" (for more on that, see Footnote #7.)
 New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law Section 715-b requires this of every not-for-profit that has "twenty or more employees and in the prior fiscal year had annual revenue in excess of one million dollars."
 Or an "Employee Manual" or a "Company Manual" or whatever the employer wants to call it.
 The legal bases for why this acknowledgement is advised will vary based on the Handbook/Manual's contents and the employer's industry.
 For more on the HERO Act, see "Ask the Lawyer" RAQ here: https://www.wnylrc.org/ask-the-lawyer/raqs/226
Tags: Employment, Labor, Legal Poems, Management, NY Labor Law, Policy