If there was one ultimate document that held all the key information employers must communicate to their employees, it would be a company handbook. These guides are useful for a number of reasons. Not only do they walk an employee through the fundamental expectations, regulations, roles, and values of the company, but they convey a sense of responsibility, belonging, and ethics, especially to new employees. Furthermore, company handbooks serve as excellent documented proof of specific business policies, procedures, and guidelines, should legal trouble ever arise. Creating easy-to-read guidebooks for your employees is a sure way to set your company up for success.
What Your Handbook Should Cover
There are a number of essential pieces of information that company handbooks should necessarily include, regardless of the nature or size of your business. Other information that you may want to put in the handbook may be based on the specific goals and inner workings of your company.
- A summary of your company is a great way to launch the handbook. You may wish to include information about your company’s story, mission, and guiding principles.
- Logistical information regarding employee benefits, working hours, salaries, tips, time-keeping, and overtime are important components of the handbook. Be clear about your financial policies such as how pay is determined, how and when raises are given, if overtime is an option, and what the company’s typical working hours are.
- It is key to address the issue of general employee behavior on the job, whether that relates to professional conduct or arriving on time for work each day. State the company’s attitude and mandates regarding proper employee communication, treatment, dress, and manner. Inform your employees of any consequences for inappropriate behavior. In addition, let your employees know of any company policies regarding timeliness or tardiness. If there are ramifications for late attendance, make this clear.
- State in detail your company’s regulations with regard to smoking, alcohol use, and drug use. If your company has an affiliated treatment program or center, include its contact information so employees have a resource to reach out to for help. You may want to look into the local and state laws that govern employee drug and alcohol use in your area in order to make sure you are in compliance with those regulations.
- Ensure that you cover the details of how your company will handle complaints, violations, and discipline, should those circumstances arise. Give employees a contact to reach out to with a complaint. Specify how your company deals with violations and what types of inappropriate or non-professional behavior will result in employee discipline.
- Include a section of the book that addresses issues of safety and harassment, emphasizing that safety is the top priority of the company. Remind employees that harassment is against the law and any reports will be strictly confidential.
What Your Handbook Should Leave Out
It is important to remind employees that handbooks are not comprehensive, but are simply guidelines that do not address all possible situations that may occur. For this reason, it is best not to include certain things in your company guide.
- Try not to use concrete language that makes certain scenarios hard-and-fast in terms of legal implications. Avoid words like ‘always’, ‘never’, and ‘permanent’, which might not be in your favor if legal action ever occurred.
- Remind employees the handbook is not all-encompassing. It is not thorough, but a sampling of issues they may deal with. Each situation is case-dependent and requires its own set of specificities.
When creating an employee handbook, including all the appropriate information and avoiding any information that doesn’t fit is an excellent strategy for writing a guide that covers just the information your employees need to know. If you have any questions specific to your situation, it is advisable to consult a professional in employment law for personalized advice.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.