Employers have a number of legal tools to protect themselves, their company, and their employees. One of these tools is an employee handbook.
Employee handbooks can inform employees of their rights, establish workplace ground rules, and guide employers and employees through disputes. If you are starting a business, if your company is going through some transitions, or even if you’re an established business, you would be wise to consider the following dos and don’ts of creating a strong, effective employee handbook.
What you DO want to include in your handbook
- An “at-will” statement;
- Information about the state and federal leave policies that apply to your specific business;
- Explanation of employee benefits and eligibility;
- Policies on non-discrimination, harassment, accommodation, and retaliation;
- Consequences for employee misconduct;
- Details on office procedures;
- Insights into company culture and philosophy; and
- Various disclaimers, among other things.
What you DON’T want in your handbook
- Provisions that obligate you to comply with federal or state laws that do not apply to your business;
- Inaccurate or outdated statements about labor laws;
- Unethical policies or statements;
- Policies that curtail employer flexibility;
- Confusing, imprecise language; and
- Policies that are not enforced, among other things.
Legal guidance can help
As you can see, creating an effective employee handbook isn’t just about knowing what to include and what to omit; it also involves knowing what laws apply to you (and which don’t), and how to communicate the information effectively to employees.
If you own a business, rest assured that you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. You can work with an attorney who is knowledgeable about employment law and experienced in drafting employee handbooks. With this support and direction, you can be confident that your handbook will effectively protect your company.