How to Write or Improve Your Emloyee Handbook

March 29, 2024 by First Federal Bank

employeeA clear, thorough, and up-to-date employee handbook is a must for nearly every business. It’s a vital resource for employees, helping them understand the company’s key policies, expectations, and procedures. It’s also a crucial tool for you, the employer, protecting you legally and helping you convey important information. Whether you’re creating a handbook for the first time or revising an existing one, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
Know what to include
Each business will have its own unique content to include, but there are certain details all employee handbooks should cover. The National Federation of Independent Business recommends covering these points:
Legal compliance: You’ll need to consult with a lawyer to ensure everything in your handbook is legally compliant and protects you from lawsuits. For example, you may need to state that employment at your company is at-will and that the handbook isn’t an employment contract. You’ll also need to state your commitment to equal employment opportunity, your accommodations for disabilities, and your policies against harassment and discrimination. Information on safety and health procedures and compliance should be included as well.
Company policies: The specifics will vary, but your handbook should clearly state all your company’s policies — for example, rules about use of company property, privacy and confidentiality, ethics and conflicts of interest, social media, intellectual property ownership, drug and alcohol use, and dress codes.
Attendance and leave: Note your company’s rules about scheduling, work hours, breaks, attendance, and absences. You’ll also need to cover policies for paid time off, sick time, leaves of absence, and (if your company is large enough) Family and Medical Leave Act compliance.
Performance and discipline: It’s a good idea for your handbook to set out general expectations for job performance and how it will be reviewed. Also, include clear policies about disciplinary action and job termination and how these will proceed.
Benefits: Be sure to cover your company’s key benefits, such as health insurance, retirement savings, vacation and sick time, and workers’ compensation.
Acknowledgement of receipt: For legal purposes, all handbooks should include a statement that the employee has received, read, and understood the entire document. Have each employee sign and date this statement, then collect it and keep it in their file.
This list isn’t exhaustive, so you may wish to check out online resources and templates for more ideas. It’s also helpful to list, outline, and clarify all your company’s key policies as you craft your handbook.
Communicate clearly
Once you’ve determined what needs to be covered in your employee handbook, it’s important to communicate each point clearly. Avoid jargon or complicated wording, make sure the layout and organization are easy to navigate, and provide resources and contact information so employees can clarify any questions they might have. You’ll also want to offer the handbook in formats that all employees can access — for example, you could make both digital and physical versions available.
Review and update frequently
Creating an employee handbook is only the first step — you’ll also need to keep it updated. In an article for the Society for Human Resources Management, Kristina H. Vaquera recommends reviewing your handbook regularly to ensure that it reflects any changes in local, state, or federal laws. It should also be revised whenever key policies change so employees have access to accurate information. Whenever you update the handbook, be sure to communicate these changes and obtain written confirmation that your employees have read and understood them.
Equipped with a clear, comprehensive employee handbook, your business can avoid legal issues, relay vital information about company policies, and help employees feel well-informed and well-prepared to carry out their responsibilities.

Categories: Small Business

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