Given the modern complexity of operating a business with the ever-evolving regulations and laws concerning employment relationships as well as the increased trend of flex scheduling, situations may arise between managers and employees as well as between co-workers. One step that businesses can take to help reduce any frustration among the ranks and effectively communicate the policies of the company, is to create an employee handbook.
An employee handbook provides important company information for the personnel covering topics such as personal conduct policies, internet usage, vacation, flex scheduling, and disciplinary procedures. Good employee handbooks:
- Help supervisors consistently apply company policy;
- Provide a single reference point for locating answers to questions concerning policy;
- Allows businesses to enforce policies without claims that the employees were not knowledgeable about them;
- Can keep a positive morale because all employees will know the common expectations, policies, and benefits; and
- Can satisfy a company’s legal duty to provide certain information and notices to employees.
- Employee handbooks can cover a wide range of topics.
While no specific format or contents are required, and each business can have an employee handbook tailored to its own needs, a typical employee handbook should cover, at the very least, these subjects:
In order to avoid future legal issues, the employee handbook should have a prominently placed disclaimer setting forth, at a minimum, the following:
- The handbook is not a contract but, rather, a statement of policies;
- The company reserves the right to revise, modify, and change the contents and any policy at any time; and
- The handbook does change the fact that the employees are “at-will.”
Company history and values
Typically, the employee handbook states the company’s history, organizational structure, philosophy, mission, vision, ethics, and goals. This provides employees with a greater sense of purpose and a better understanding of their role within the business.
At-will employee policy
Not only should it be in the disclaimer, but there should be another section in the employee handbook specifically including an "at-will" provision reminding the employees, once again, that their employment is “at will” which means that either the company or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason (provided, of course, the reason is not discriminatory or retaliatory). "At-will" provisions in employee manuals have helped many businesses in wrongful termination claims proving there was not promise of continued employment.
Laws the company is required to inform employees about
In some states and industries, a company must tell employees about specific laws or regulations. The employee handbook is one good place to publish and educate the employees on those matters. Most employee handbooks also come with a form of receipt for the employee to acknowledge that he or she has received and read the manual.
The company’s important rules and policies
Some typical subjects are arriving to work on time, breaks, absences and illness, safety, criteria for awarding raises, and protecting confidential information. Also included should be an equal opportunity statement indicating that a person's age, sex, race, religion, disability or national origin will have no affect on any aspect of the job, including hiring, firing, salary, promotions or raises.
Information on personnel policies
The employee handbook is a good place to provide information on such issues as work hours, pay periods, holidays, pay reduction for lateness and vacation policies. Your company's employee handbook can include various other information such as dress codes, use of company vehicles, restrictions on personal phone and internet use, hours of operation, phone lists, jury duty, funeral leave and anything else relevant to your particular business. In addition, an employee handbook should include a policy expressly prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace as well as providing a complaint procedure for employees who believe they have been sexually harassed.
Information about employee benefits
The employee handbook is a good place to inform employees about benefits of employment such as insurance coverage, profit sharing, and any retirement benefits, including how much of company pays and who is eligible for the benefits.
Keep your handbook up-to-date
Once created, you should regularly review your company's employee handbook to make sure it is up-to-date and compliant with any laws and regulations of your industry. At the very least, businesses should review their employee handbook annually to insure that it can provide protection against any employment claims.
Contact an attorney at Triscaro & Associates today. Please call us for all your legal needs. We offer a full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses, including personal injury, estate planning, real estate, family law and business matters. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal services at a reasonable cost.