Employee handbooks are a great way to outline and explain workplace policies and expectations to employees. This written document gives employees constant access to what is expected of them but also what is expected of you, the employer. Great for businesses of any size, an employee handbook allows the employer to distribute and communicate the same information to each of their employees in an accessible format. Additionally, a written policy provides valuable legal protection for the employer, if any court cases arise. Simple and effective, an employee handbook should be a top priority for your growing or established business.

The Benefits of Employee Handbooks Include:

  • Clear communication about workplace expectations
  • Reiterates “Employment At-Will” policy
  • Describes the employer’s legal obligations
  • Describes the employee’s rights
  • Everyone receives the same information
  • Answers employee’s questions and saves employer’s time
  • Employees know what is expected of them
  • Employees know what is expected of employers
  • Avoid misunderstandings and accusations of favoritism and discrimination
  • Reduces the possibility of a harassment lawsuit
  • Communicates information employers are legally obligated to provide
  • Provides an established, consistent, and streamlined system for discipline
  • Legal protection for any possible court challenges
  • Helps avoid legal disputes

Employee Handbook Policies to Consider

While every company is unique, some basic policies should be considered for every handbook. After introducing your company’s history and business philosophy, it’s useful to include the following workplace policies in your handbook:

  • Hours and Work Schedules
  • Pay, Salaries, and Compensation
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employment At-Will Policy
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Harassment
  • Anti-Discrimination
  • Attendance
  • Discipline
  • Smoking
  • Complaints
  • Media Relations
  • Leave Policies
  • Employee Safety and Security
  • Computer and Technology Use
  • Standards of Conduct
  • Workplace Environment
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s)
  • Conflict of Interest Statements
  • General Employment Information
  • Possibility of Conduct Not Covered by the Handbook

Create Your Own Employee Handbook

Your very own employee handbook allows your business or company’s unique policies to be heard. Plus, when everyone knows the rules and consequences, disputes are less likely to occur. However, be mindful about keeping your options open and flexible when it comes to progressive discipline policies (i.e. first offense, second offense, and third offense policies), avoid promises of continued employment, and always reserve the right to add, change, or terminate policies at any time. Be sure to state that all new policies override previous ones, both verbal and written.

In order to provide the best legal protection, only the proper policy language and forms will do. A well-written policy will help prevent disputes and, hopefully, court altogether. However, if you do go to court, courts will try to make sure your handbook and your actions are in alignment. If they aren’t, you may find yourself at the unfavorable end of a court judgement.

As you create your own employee handbook, guidance from a legal firm like Peterson, Stinson, and White will allow your company to create a thoughtful and precise employee handbook that can defend your company’s legal rights. The Small Business Administration and NOLO also provide useful information and links on the subject of employee handbooks. Let us know if we can consult you and your company with its legal policies.