Role of an Employee Handbook

Depending on the size of your business and how long you have been in operation, you may or may not have an employee handbook. No matter what your company size, implementing a handbook is a good business practice if you don’t already have one. It outlines the policies and procedures of an organization. It outlines the expectations to your employees and describes what they can expect from your business.

Legal Protection

A handbook offers protection against legal claims. Describing all policies in detail and outlining the employer/employee relationship will be key in using a handbook as legal protection. For instance, if an employee is terminated and takes you to court, outlining if employment is considered at will in the handbook will be important to defend your case.

Information in a Handbook

An employee handbook should clearly describe the employer’s policies. This provides the expectations to all employees and provides consistent use of policies. One critical policy that should be included in the handbook is who and employee goes to if they have a problem. This demonstrates that you would like to see a resolution for the employee before bringing in someone from the outside.

Topics that should be addressed in your handbook includes:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  • Employee Benefits
  • Paid Time Off such as vacation, personal days, sick leave
  • Unpaid Leaves of Absence
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Jury Duty and Military Leave
  • Work Hours
  • The Introductory or Probationary Period
  • Required Language about Pay Deductions
  • Email and Internet Usage
  • Dress Code and Professionalism

Having policies in your handbook is not only a benefit for the employees but also for your supervisors. It acts as a guide in handling employee questions and situations. Some organizations create a management handbook as well.

Other Uses

Setting the tone for the culture is an important aspect of an employee handbook. Include a welcome statement describing the company’s history and how employees contribute to business success is beneficial. Many companies will also include their mission and vision statements.

In more recent years, employee handbooks are being used an employee onboarding tool. Companies defining their employment brand, often bring that look and feel to a handbook. Long gone are the days of plain text on blank paper. Employers are now using graphics, diagrams and digital tools to explain complicated procedures and add interest for the reader. It acts as a retention tool for new employees reading the handbook for the first time.

Whatever style and format you use for your handbook, make it unique for your organization and don’t let it collect dust. Review it periodically and make it a living document meant be changed as needed.

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