Establishing an Employee Handbook
One of the essential features of a successful business is a trusting and professional relationship between employer and employees. One of the best ways to ensure that this relationship is properly established from the very beginning is the use of an employee handbook. While it is definitely not the most interesting document to read(or write for that matter), it is a document that is necessary to establish a uniform, well-defined personnel policy. It is a convenient method to clearly communicate employer standards, legal obligations of the employer, legal rights of the employee and many times can reduce the risk of employee lawsuits.
Using tips from Human Resources online, the Employment Law Network and the U.S. Small Business Administration, we have crafted a list of items you will want to consider including in your employee handbook.
- Company Goals and Mission – While reading a lengthy document about company rules and regulations may not sound thrilling, a short mission statement will help introduce your company to the employee officially. This list of goals will give the employee a better sense of what should motivate them and where he/she fits in the larger purpose of the company.
- Anti-Discriminatory Policies – Employers must comply with the equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Handbooks are a perfect place to spell out these laws and how employees are expected to comply with them. Read More about Discrimination and Harassment Policies.
- General Policies and Procedure – This is a great place to go over the basics such as: dress code, pay periods, time sheets, company holidays, defined work hours/week and other incidentals. This may also include computer use and telephone usage.
- Employment Policies– This section of the handbook should include items such as: employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, employee records, job postings, probationary periods, termination and resignation procedures. Read more about Labor Laws.
- Employee Benefits – Detail any benefit programs for employees and eligibility requirement including: health insurance, retirement plans, wellness plans and other optional benefits. Be sure to include a list of legal benefits. Here is a list from the US Small Business Administration of required Legal Benefits.
- Safety and Security – We all want employees to be safe at work so include your policy for creating a safe environment for employees. Include compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s laws (OSHA) that require employees to report all accidents, injuries, potential safety hazards, safety suggestions and health and safety related issues to management.
- Leave Policies – Your company’s leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those you are required to provide by law. Family medical leave, maternity leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. This is also a good section to include vacation policies.
- Problem-Resolution Procedure – Even with all of these rules and regulations spelled out completely in writing, there will always be questions and issues raised throughout the year. Create a procedure, whether is is within Human Resources (or with someone in a leadership position if your company does not have HR) of how you will deal with such issues.