Employee Handbooks and Policies

hrbp_handbookThe company employee handbook is one of the most important communication tools between your company and your employees. Not only does it set forth your expectations for your employees, but it also describes what they can expect from the company. It is essential for your company to have an employee handbook to convey the culture of your organization and to create the operational foundation of your company. By providing a tool for employees to reference, you are increasing the consistency of organizational practices. This will help to reduce potential legal disputes which could occur when employees perceive they are being treated unfairly. Courts have considered an employee handbook to be a contractual obligation, so it is important to have the handbook professionally created and customized for the size and location of your organization.

An employee handbook is a document which contains information about company policies and procedures. It may be published online or hard copy. The employee handbook is an excellent place to bring together employment and job-related information which employees need to know, such as company expectations and state and federal law compliance information. It can also provide useful source of information to new staff as part of the orientation process. A written employee handbook gives clear advice to employees and creates a culture where issues are dealt with fairly and consistently.

  • A Welcome statement which may also describe the company’s history, reasons for its success and how the employee can contribute to future successes. It may also include a mission statement or a statement about a business’ goals and objectives.
  • Definitions of employment classification such as exempt, non-exempt, full-time, part-time, and temporary employment. This includes clear definition of the benefits each classification receives. In addition, this area also describes timekeeping procedures such as defining a “work week”. This area may also include information about daily breaks required by state law for lunch and rest.
  • Information about employee pay and benefits such as paid time off and insurance.
  • Expectations about conduct and discipline policies. These sections include conduct policies for such areas as, sexual harassment, alcohol and drug use, and attendance; plus, grounds for termination and the performance improvement process. This area may also include information about communicating work-related issues with company managers.
  • Guidelines for employee performance reviews such as frequency and how they are conducted.
  • Rules concerning mail; use of the telephone, company equipment, Internet and e-mail; and employee use of motor vehicles for job assignments.
  • Procedures on handling on-the-job accidents, such as those that result in injury.
  • How an employee may voluntarily terminate their job through retirement or resignation.
  • A requirement that employees keep certain business information confidential. This area usually includes information about releasing employee records and information, as well as who may retrieve and inspect the information.
  • If the employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 – generally 50 or more employees – a handbook must have information about FMLA.

New employees are usually required to sign an acknowledgement form stating they have read and understand the information in the employee handbook. By signing this statement, employees are responsible for remaining informed of updates to the employee handbook and company policies.

Federal and state laws and the growing number of cases of employee related litigation against organizations strongly suggests that a written employee handbook of company policies is a business necessity for firms of any size. The employee handbook also serves as a tool for managers to reference when answering employee questions in order to improve consistency among employees.