Employee Handbook Basics

Crafting an employee handbook sounds … well, tedious, maybe? At best, it may not be at the top of your to do list as a small to mid-size business owner. There are only 24 hours in a day … so where does this task fit into your already overloaded schedule? Can’t you just put it off till next week … or next month or next quarter??

Reality check: Your handbook can help you keep your employees happier by clearly spelling out your company policies and procedures. And you benefit, as well, because you can use it to avoid potentially costly litigation. So, as burdensome as it sounds, you need to develop a handbook that keeps team members informed, and at the same time, helps you accomplish your business goals.

The Nuts and Bolts

When you write an employee handbook, the devil is in the details. Its success depends on what you include and on how you word the content.

  • Your handbook must be written in a clear, concise, understandable manner that reflects your company culture.
  • Certain policies must be included, as required by law. Others should be included to help your employees understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from your company. Policies should be spelled out, in part, to protect you as an employer.

What the Law Requires

As you consider the content of your employee handbook, begin by understanding what you need to include by law. The U.S. Department of Labor spells this out for you on a federal basis at www.dol.gov.

  • Remember, if your business operates in more than one state, you may have legal reasons for developing different books for each state. Or, if you have different business units, such as manufacturing, sales, and research facilities, different versions may be needed. Many state labor departments also have listings about laws by which you, as an employer, must abide.
  • Policies you need to publish in your handbook may include those pertaining to the following: family medical leave, equal employment and non-discrimination, workers’ compensation, accommodation of disabilities, and military and crime victims leave.

Other Items to Include

In addition to legally required items, you may want to include these sections in your employee handbook:

  • Company history and mission.
  • Paid time off.
  • Employee behavior.
  • Pay and promotions.
  • Benefits.

The following disclaimers are also worth consideration:

  • An employee handbook is not a contract. It makes no promise about any issues related to a person’s employment.
  • Your handbook -can prevail over any previous policy documents. It is the ultimate word on company policies.
  • Policies in your handbook may be subject to change. This is an important statement because as times and circumstances change, you will need to make revisions.

Lyons HR can provide employee handbooks and other materials, as well as -advise on nearly any employment-related issue, with plans and strategies custom tailored to your business. As an ESAC-accredited and IRS-certified professional employer organization, we offer a full spectrum of services to meet your human capital needs. Contact us today to learn more.