Employee Handbook

Employee Handbooks are also often called Policy and Procedures Manuals. The Handbook/Manual is a statement of the policies of the business and how the business is to be conducted. The 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 that your company has one and that it be clear and as unambiguous as possible. Misunderstandings or misstatements can create legal liabilities for your business. In legal disputes courts have considered an employee handbook to be a contractual obligation, so word it carefully.

For a quick and easy way to create a professional-looking manual, you can download this employee handbook template.

The company employee handbook and related personnel policies should be one of the first formal communications that you will have with an employee after they are hired. Make sure the first impression is a good one. Similarly, in the event of a dispute or poor performance review, this will be the first place that the employee turns.

The handbook should contain enough detail to avoid confusion, but not so much as to overwhelm. For instance, if there are other documents (i.e. group insurance handbook, and retirement plan documents) which more appropriately provide details, don't try to recreate the information in the handbook. Instead, offer a brief summary and refer to the other document in the employee handbook. Make sure that you are familiar with the myriad of laws and regulations for employment. It is always wise to consult with a lawyer on any topics that you don't understand.

The actual policies in the manual will vary from company to company, depending on its size, number of employees, and benefits offered. Regardless of the size or complexity of your business, once you hire your first employee its best to take the time to think through the policies for your company, have at least the minimum list of policies for your employees, and write them down.

Some of the types of policies you may wish to include in your handbook are:

An Employee Acknowledgement Form
Introduction to the Employee Handbook*
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement*

General Policies:
Personal Information
Attendance
Use of Company Property*
Confidentiality
Dress Code
Safety and Accident Rules*
Substance Abuse
Sexual Harassment
Smoking
Performance Reviews
Employment Categories
Additional Policies

Compensation and Benefits:
Payroll*
Work Hours and Reporting*
Holidays*
Vacation*
Sick Leave*
Family and Medical Leave*
Maternity Leave*
Funeral Leave*
Jury Duty*
Military Service*
Group Insurance Benefits
Short Term Disability
Continuation of Medical/COBRA
Worker's Compensation
Retirement Plans
Tuition Assistance
Employee Assistance Program
Other Benefits

*: Minimal Set of Policies