What to Include in Your Employee Handbook - Top 10 Important Items

Article Summary

  1. Your employee handbook is an important communication tool between you and your employees.
  2. Your handbook should set forth your expectations for your employees likewise what they can expect from your company.
  3. It is also important to note that an employee handbook does not create an employment contract between you and your employees.
  4. In my opinion, every employer should have some form of an employee manual.
  5. Do you wonder what to include in your employee handbook, the following are my top ten categories that should be included.

Your employee handbook is an important communication tool between you and your employees. Your handbook should set forth your expectations for your employees likewise what they can expect from your company. It should describe the legal obligations you have as an employer together with your employee’s rights.

It is also important to note that an employee handbook does not create an employment contract between you and your employees. Policies contained herein are to establish and create a productive and harmonious work environment. In order to achieve the mission of your company whether that is customer service, product production, etc. In my opinion, every employer should have some form of an employee manual. Do you wonder what to include in your employee handbook, the following are my top ten categories that should be included.  

10. General employment provisions

  • Good place to put an overview of your business.
  • Employment qualifications such as citizenship, criminal history, veteran’s preference.
  • Can include issues on safety and security by including the compliance with occupational safety and health administrational laws. Accidents, injuries, bad weather, and hazardous community situations.
  • Employment status, new employee orientation, introductory periods for employees, free periods for employees, anti-nepotism policies and reasonable accommodations.
  • May include here or separately non-disclosure agreements, agreements not to compete and conflicts of interest.

9. Work Schedules

  • Here we describe policies surrounding work hours, schedules, attendance, punctuality, reporting absences, as well as any overtime, or compensatory time and policies.
  • Depending on the type of work force, you may also want to have policies referencing on call status, call back status, etc.

8. Leaves of Absence

  • An important section because of the applicability of laws which dictate employer policy.  
  • Must carefully document as required by law, family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases as well as voting.   
  • This is also the opportunity to outline your policies for holiday leave, annual leave, sick leave, bereavement and any other forms of leave offered by your company.

7. Employee Benefits

  • This is the opportunity to detail all employee benefit programs as well as eligibility requirements. There may be benefits here that are required by law.
  • This is where insurance information is outlined which may include health, dental, life insurance, etc.; to the extent those benefits are offered.  
  • This is also where information on pension plans to the extent they are offered, as well as voluntary benefit programs such as medical or child care withholding accounts.
  • You can also outline here deferred compensation plans if they are offered as well as worker’s compensation benefits.

6. Compensation

  • In addition to providing the actual compensation, the handbook can explain clearly the required deductions employers take for federal and state taxes as well as voluntary deductions for benefit programs.
  • This is also the place to contain provisions explaining overtime pay, salary increases that are tied to performance reviews, timekeeping records, bonuses, etc.

5. Media Relations

  • Not always applicable to all employers but it is a good practice to have a single point of contact for media inquiries.  
  • There should be a section here that explains how employees handle calls regarding media inquiries.

4. Employee Performance

  • Important to both you and the employee, this section provides how employees are evaluated.
  • It can also include a section describing performance improvement plans, which can be implemented at any time during the employment to identify and correct performance deficiencies.

3. Separations

  • This section deals with resignations, dismissals and discipline.
  • May also include provision regarding retirement to the extent applicable.  
  • It can include sections for employment conclusion which would include exit interviews, return of property, leave payouts, outstanding financial obligations to the employer, etc.  

2. Computers and Technology

  • In this day and age, this is a critical component of an employee handbook. It should outline policies for appropriate computer and software use.
  • Address issues surrounding securing electronic information. Especially personal identifiable information that are collected from customers.
  • A good place to provide information about the use of any internet policies.
  • The use of sonic walls or similar internet screening tools which might be in place at your business.
  1. Standards of Conduct
  • This is an opportunity for you to express your expectations, how you want the employee to conduct themselves.
  • This may include provision on ethics, dress and appearance, use of company property, use of company technology, use of company vehicles, etc.
  • It can also include issues on release of information to the public, solicitation, etc. 
  • This is also the section where you would insert safe workplace environment information on things such as, drug-free workplace, tobacco-free workplace, violence-free workplace, and non-discrimination and harassment-free workplace.
  • Some of these provisions are required by law for your company to comply including those on equal employment opportunity, Americans with Disability Act and others.

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