Today we are going to discuss one of the most important communication tools between a company and its employees, the employee handbook.

A well-written handbook sets forth your expectations for your employees, and describes what they can expect from your company in return. employee handbook guide.jpeg

While the policies outlined in your handbook will reflect your company's own unique culture, it is important to consider federal, state and local laws and regulations that may affect your business when drafting your employee handbook. You may want to create multiple handbooks if you have both exempt and non-exempt employees and/or unionized employees.

Your handbook should first serve as a welcome to employees. Set the tone for your work environment with a mission statement or a sincere note from your President or CEO…this will introduce your company and provide the employee with a sense of your corporate culture.

Your handbook should also include general employment information…such things as policies relating to job classifications, smoking, internet access, email, employee records, payroll practices, overtime, and union information, if applicable. You should also check your state laws in areas such as overtime to make sure you are in compliance.

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The employee handbook is also the vehicle for documenting your company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policies; your compensation, benefits and leave policies; your work schedule and telecommuting policies; your standards of conduct; and employee discipline policies. Information relating to safety, security and use of technology should be included as well.

Finally, if your employees are to be employed 'at-will,' you should clearly state that fact and include a conspicuous disclaimer in the front of the book that specifically states that the handbook is not an employment contract and should not be construed as a contract.  You will also want to include in the handbook a written acknowledgement by the employee that he or she has received and read the handbook, to be signed and placed in the employee's personnel file.  

Most importantly, remember that your employee handbook is the single most important internal document for laying out the policies of your company to each and every one of your employees.  As such, it is important to have employment counsel review the handbook before you publish and distribute it.

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Topics: Employee Handbook

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