Crafting an Effective Employee Handbook: Essential Policies for Your Business
What Should be Included in an Employment Handbook?
There is no legal requirement mandating written employment policies or an employee handbook. Typically, these documents do not hold the force of a contract. The legal relationship between your company and your employees is primarily defined by the at-will employment relationship or specific offer letters or contracts you provided to the employee.
However, employee handbooks serve several valuable purposes. They act as a resource for communicating rules and expectations to employees, helping to reduce confusion regarding matters like vacation accrual, attendance, dress code, and other essential expectations. When done correctly, they also provide a layer of risk protection for your company.
Employment Policies You Should Include in the Handbook
The following policies should find a place in your employment handbook, as they can shield your company from liability under specific employment laws:
Employment Handbooks: Other Optional Provisions
Need Help With an Employee Handbook?
Some additional provisions are often included in employee handbooks:
- Introduction/company mission statement: While not legally significant, this section allows you to welcome new employees and convey messages about the company's mission, vision, and culture.
- Employee classifications: Some handbooks define different employee classifications (e.g., full-time, part-time, exempt vs. non-exempt). However, be cautious to avoid conflicting with overtime laws, especially for exempt vs. non-exempt status.
- Probationary or introductory period: This clarifies the expectation that employment will continue based on an employee's performance during a specific period.
- Telecommuting: In the era of remote work, clear expectations for remote work arrangements can be valuable.
- Standards of conduct and code of conduct: While useful for setting expectations, ensure flexibility to address unforeseen behavior issues.
- Dress code / personal appearance: Include this if necessary, but be mindful of potential discrimination concerns.
- Anti-nepotism/fraternization: Consider including these policies to address conflicts of interest or romantic relationships within the workplace.
- Conflicts of interest / outside employment / off-duty conduct: Prevent conflicts with activities that interfere with job performance or company operations.
- Non-disclosure/confidentiality: Emphasize the importance of protecting company confidential information.
- Workplace bullying: Use caution, as workplace bullying isn't against the law in most cases.
- Benefits: Summarize the benefits you offer and direct employees to specific plan documents for details.
- Travel and expense reporting/reimbursement: Describe reimbursable expenses, submission procedures, and required documentation.
- Use of employer equipment/vehicles: Notify employees that company equipment and supplies belong to the employer.
- Performance evaluations: Include this policy only if you conduct regular performance evaluations.
Need Help With a Handbook or Contract?
Our Solutions Roadmap is a quick and easy way to share the details of what you are facing and receive preliminary feedback from a member of our team. Use the button below to get started- it is 100% confidential and 100% free.
How Our Employment Lawyers Can Help
We can help you review an employment handbook to determine whether it is covered all of the issues relevant to your business, or create a handbook for you if you do not have one. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, or give us a call at 781-784-2322.