7 Key Elements of a Strong Employee Handbook

An employee handbook set outs fundamental information about your company and the employee’s role(s) within your business. It covers the basic need-to-know information about the company as a whole as well as more in-depth data regarding policies and procedures that affect individual employees on a daily basis.

Because the employee handbook contains so much information, it can be difficult to know where to start in putting one together. It is particularly important that your employee handbook works for you in terms of meeting legal compliance requirements. Our list will hopefully point you in the right direction:

  1.     Company Overview

Provide a brief outline of what your business does. Include the goals and mission of the organization. This type of information provides an overarching sense of purpose for all of your employees and helps them work toward a common objective.

  1.     Disclaimer

Your employee handbook should explicitly state that it is not a contract with your staff and that they have an at-will employment relationship with your company (unless they are employed under contract or through another arrangement). Nothing in the handbook should be construed as a contractual obligation.

  1.     Required Federal and State Policies

Federal law requires that you have several internal policies. The employee handbook is a great place to describe policies regarding equal opportunity employment, non-discrimination, non-harassment, family medical leave policies, and workers’ compensation policies—to name a few.

  1.     Discipline Policies

The employee handbook is also a good place to describe employee disciplinary action that can be taken should the worker not comply with workplace requirements. Be sure to explain the disciplinary procedure in detail and adhere to it carefully in practice.

  1.     Explanation of Benefits

You should set out the benefits that your employees will be entitled to receive. Will they need to go through a waiting period? Are there any other qualifications? Do they “earn” time off over time or do they get vacation/sick time immediately? You should also specify the process for requesting time off and describe any other benefits that will be available to the workers as well.

  1.     Attendance/Punctuality Policies

Describe your rules regarding attendance and coming to work on time. Set out specific notice requirements for sick days or unexpected emergencies and explain what will happen if they are violated.

  1.     Acknowledgement of Understanding

At the end of every handbook, you should include a form that the employee signs to say that he or she received a copy of the guide and understood its contents. This type of form will help combat issues down the road if an employee attempts to claim that he or she was unaware of a policy or procedure.

One of the best ways to ensure that your handbook complies with federal, state, and local laws is to put it to the test with an internal legal audit. Find out more by calling our team here at Maxwell Dunn today.