Today we’re going to talk about an essential tool for onboarding a new employee at your company…the employee handbook.
With all the meetings, introductions and paperwork involved in employee orientation, it might be tempting to give the employee handbook short shrift. But don’t do it. The employee handbook is one of your first official communications to your new employee, and it should be up-to-date, detailed, and well written.
In fact, your employee handbook is the single most important internal document for communicating policies, practices and employee benefits. It sets forth your expectations for your employees, and outlines what they, in turn, can expect from your organization. While the policies outlined in your handbook will reflect your company's own unique culture, these policies also must be drafted in adherence to federal, state and local laws and regulations. You may even find that you need more than one edition of your official handbook…for example, one for exempt employees and another for non-exempt, or for union employees and non-union employees. In any instance, there are a number of key elements to be included in an employee handbook.
After a welcome and introduction from your president or CEO, begin with general employment information. Provide an overview of your business, and lay out basic policies relating to employment eligibility, job classifications, employee records, job postings, termination and resignation procedures, and, if applicable, union information.
Next, address your company's anti-discrimination policies. Depending on the size of the company, employers must comply with a number of different federal and state equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination. Outline them here, and set out a statement of your official compliance. This section is also a good place to set out your sexual harassment and any affirmative action policies.
Your handbook should also cover compensation and work schedules. With respect to compensation, include information on federal and state tax deductions as well as voluntary deductions for benefits. Also explain pay schedules, time keeping policies, and topics such as performance reviews, raises and bonuses.
You should also clearly state your company’s regular work hours and schedules, and your policy on attendance, punctuality and reporting absences. If telecommuting or flex hours are an option, cover those here as well.
Standards of conduct is one of the most important sections in your handbook. Make sure you document how you expect employees to conduct themselves in the workplace, from dress code to ethics. Remind employees of any legal obligations they may need to comply with, such as protecting sensitive customer data, and describe your standards related to employee discipline, including any progressive discipline policy.
As always, it is wise to seek the counsel of a reliable employment law attorney when drafting an employee handbook.