Your business isn’t legally required to provide an employee handbook, but regardless of your size, it’s still a good idea to furnish something in writing – even just one sheet – that explains basic terms of employment.
- It’s an effective way of ensuring everyone is on the same page in terms of your basic expectations of them, as well as what they can expect from you;
- It provides some structure and consistency in how business is conducted-internally and toward potential and current customers/clients; and
- Written standards can provide legal protections down the road.
It might be hard to imagine a time when terms of employment would become a point of contention. It may be rare, but like the proverbial 100-year storm, if it happens it can be very unpleasant and costly. The ability to point to a set of clearly communicated standards, expectations and benefits can disarm charges that the terms of employment were unclear.
Make it a Win-Win Document
If presented in the right spirit, having a handbook should be seen as a positive by your employees. It should be their ”go-to” source for clarification on how things work at your business.
Basic topics to cover include: company goals/mission; employee definitions (e.g., full/part time); clearly defined workweek; overtime pay & salaries; benefits; attendance and leave policies; workplace harassment/discrimination; workplace safety; smoking; drug/alcohol abuse; and disciplinary policies.
Here are some other important elements to consider:
It should be clear that the “handbook” is NOT a contract of employment.
For that and other reasons, legal review is advised to ensure that the information you provided or did not provide is accurate, legally sound and cannot be misconstrued.
Ensure Everyone Has a Copy.
Ask employees to sign a receipt that indicates they have received a copy of the “handbook.” (and encourage them to come to you with questions).
Overwhelmed by the prospect of sitting down to write an employee handbook? Not to worry – there are plenty of online sources that provide a soup-to-nuts template for you to easily build upon. Others help you think through specific aspects of your business that need to be addressed in your handbook.
Checklist: Essential Items for an Employee Handbook – HRWorld.com
Why You Should Create an Employee Handbook – NoLo.com
7 Tips for Creating an Employee Handbook – Quickbooks.Intuit.com
Model Employee Handbook for Small Business – NFIB Legal Foundation