An employee handbook (or employee manual or staff handbook)
details guidelines, expectations and procedures of a business or company to
Handbooks are given to employees on one of the first days of
his/her job, in order to acquaint them with their new company and its
While it often varies from business to business, specific areas that an
employee handbook may address include:
- A welcome statement, which may also briefly describe the
company's history, reasons for its success and how the employee can
contribute to future successes. It may also include a
mission statement, or a statement about a business' goals and
- Orientation procedures. This usually involves providing a human
resources manager or other designated employee completed income
tax withholding forms, providing proof of identity and eligibility for
employment (in accordance with the
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986), proof of a completed drug
test (by a designated medical center) and other required forms.
- Definitions of full- and part-time employment, and benefits each
classification receives. In addition, this area also describes timekeeping
procedures (such as defining a "work week"). This area may also include
information about daily breaks (for lunch and rest).
- Information about employee pay and benefits (such as vacation and
insurance). Usually, new employees are awarded some benefits, plus
additional rewards (such as enrollment in a
401K retirement account program, additional vacation and pay raises)
after having worked for a company for a certain period of time. These are
spelled out in this section.
- Expectations about conduct and discipline policies. These sections
include conduct policies for such areas as
sexual harassment, alcohol
and drug use, and attendance; plus, grounds for
dismissal (i.e., getting fired) and due
process. This area may also include information about filing grievances
with supervisors and/or co-workers, and communicating work-related issues
with supervisors and/or company managers.
Guidelines for employee performance reviews (such as how and when they
- Policies for promotion or demotion to a certain position.
- Rules concerning mail; use of the telephone, company equipment, Internet
and employee use of motor vehicles for job assignments.
- Procedures on handling on-the-job accidents, such as those that result
- How an employee may voluntarily terminate his job (through retirement or
resignation), and exit interviews.
- A requirement that employees keep certain business information
confidential. This area usually includes information about releasing
employee records and information, as well as who may retrieve and inspect
If the employer is covered by the
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 - generally 50 or more employees - a
handbook must have information about FMLA.
Why are written policies important?
Sound employment policies provide the framework within which an
organization governs its employee relations. A policies and procedures manual
guides both managers and employees as to what is expected and can prevent
misunderstandings about employer policy. In addition, supervisors and managers
are more likely to consistently apply policies if they are clearly
communicated in writing. An is probably your first line of establishing an
affirmative defense strategy.
It is true that written policies, like any record, can be used against an
organization in a lawsuit. Poorly drafted policies often become the main
evidence presented when employees allege that the policies were in fact a
contract that the employer violated.
However, policies that are carefully
written so as not to be contracts actually should protect against these claims
and not be a problem. In addition, carefully written policies can be used to
illustrate your commitment to a positive work environment and to
nondiscriminatory employment practices.
Need for employee handbook
Federal and state laws and the growing number of cases of employee related
litigation against management strongly suggests that a written statement of
company policy is a business necessity for firms of any size.
For example, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
reported that in 2005, companies paid out more than $378 million dollars in
discrimination non-litigated settlements. In 2007, the EEOC received a total
of 82,792 discrimination charges filed against private businesses.
Other examples of litigation against a company stemming from employee
actions are the release of a customer's private information and, of course, the
actions of one employee against another; sexual harassment being this type of
offensive employee conduct.
An effective Employee Handbook Company Policy Manual is a very obvious,
simple and inexpensive answer to the question, "How does a business protect
itself against lawsuits based on employee behavior?" There are several key
elements that businesses should consider before implementing an Employee
One of the most important aspects of any Employee Handbook Company Policy
Manual is that the Employee Handbook Company Policy Manual is kept current.
Laws do change, and your Employee Handbook needs to be updated and kept
current. Likewise, if a company has employees who are more comfortable using
Spanish than English, it is a best practice to have an Employee Handbook
Company Policy Manual that is available in Spanish.
Other key characteristics of an
Employee Handbook Company Policy Handbook
that helps guard against employee lawsuits are that the Employee Handbook is
attorney written and completed, and customized for each state; one size does
not fit all!
A New Mexico Employee Handbook should not be used in California. State laws
may very well be different. For example, if a company wants to implement a
Drug-free Workplace, an appropriate policy must be communicated to each
employee in the Employee Handbook Company Policy Manual. Each state may have
its own rules on how a Drug-free workplace is to be accomplished, and the
information that must be communicated to employees. Florida and Texas are such
states. Source: Wikipedia.