An employer is not required by law to have an employee handbook. However, in most cases, it is highly recommended. An employee handbook is a great resource because it provides a centralized set of guidelines for the employer’s policies and procedures. Oftentimes, the source of employee disputes concerns a lack of understanding of employer expectations. In addition, unwritten rules and policies can lead to inconsistent treatment among staff. This, in particular, can be problematic.
An employee handbook should include at a minimum:
- A statement regarding the at-will employment relationship
- An equal employment opportunity statement
- A policy regarding sexual and other types of harassment in the workplace
- Internet access, e-mail, and voice mail policies (make sure your employees understand they have no expectation of privacy)
- The Family Medical Leave Act
- Policies concerning vacations, sick time and personal time
- An anti-discrimination policy
Different types of businesses will have different needs in terms of policies and procedures and undoubtedly there are a number of other policies that should be included in your handbook that are not identified above. You will need to evaluate your needs on an ongoing business. For instance, if you operate a business that is document-intensive, a document retention policy would be a good idea.
Regardless of what your policies and procedures are, your work does not stop with the creation of handbooks. The most important aspect of your handbook is education. Your employees must have a good understanding of what your policies are and this will require training. It would be a good idea to maintain both a written and electronic version of your handbook and to provide training sessions for all employees to discuss and explain all of your policies. Keep in mind that your business will always be a work in progress and that you should continuously reevaluate your handbook and update when necessary.