Ensure These Seven Topics Are In Your Employee Handbook
As an employer, your employee handbook is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. This simple booklet can save you a lot of time repeatedly answering the same questions; simply by detailing your company’s policies, practices and employee benefits all in one place.
By investing some time into your employee handbook you can effectively communicate what an employee should expect from your company, and what you expect from them. Each employee should then sign a statement saying they have read the handbook and understand everything within it as part of the induction process, so that you know that everyone is on the same page. But when you sit down to write your employee handbook, where on earth do you start? Well, as a starting point, we recommend your handbook covers the following areas:
General Employment Information
This section should cover all of the general elements and rules for employment with your company. Lay out the basic policies relating to employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, records, job postings, termination and resignation procedures, transfers, relocation and union information if you have one. Remember that each employee will have their own specific employment information in their contract, so this should cover the more general principles that are applicable to everyone.
Make it clear what your company’s policies are regarding work hours and schedules. Detail the circumstances for overtime and its eligibility, as well as any options for flexible working. On top of that you should also lay out your policies regarding attendance, punctuality and reporting absences along with the consequences for breaching them. If you allow telecommuting or flexible working, you should detail your policies and guidelines within the handbook.
Standard Of Conduct
This section is really important and should cover everything about how you want your employees to conduct themselves while representing your business or acting within it. This includes dress codes, telephone and computer use rules, clearly defined smoking procedures (eg cover up all company logos while smoking) and any general behavioural elements you wish to include. Here you should also remind employees of their legal obligations when it comes to conduct, for example, how they handle confidential data. You can also include a description of your company’s disciplinary procedure here in clear and plain English.
As an employer you have a legal obligation to comply with anti-discrimination regulations and this section of your employee handbooks should explain what those obligations mean. You can then explain how employees can comply with these laws and how to report anything they consider may contravene them. It is also a good place to talk about your sexual harassment policy, affirmative action policies (such as mandatory training) and pledge to uphold these rules.
The leave policies for employees should be carefully documented, especially the leave you are required to give by law. This section not only covers employees who wish to leave (notice periods etc.) or need to be terminated by the employer, but also the policies for temporary leave. Explain the statutory (plus any extra) holiday for employees, along with bereavement, emergency, maternity, paternity, jury duty, military leave and sick leave. Detail what levels of pay (if any) are given for each, along with the requirements that must be met (for example over four days off sick would require a note from a doctor).
It is not all serious doom and gloom – in this section you can detail any benefits your employees may enjoy. If you provide any insurances, private medical care, company cars, pensions, commission or bonuses, detail all of these here. You may wish to separate these out to explain which are statutory and which are additional benefits your company chooses to give.
Health And Safety
And finally, describe your company’s policy for creating a safe and secure workplace for your employees. Explain the laws around reporting accidents and safety hazards. Offer a walkthrough of the fire drill and detail your plans for the event of a disaster. Make sure to mention your company’s policy on extreme bad weather and hazardous community conditions.
Even with a head start, writing an employee handbook can be a challenging task. What’s more, it has to be compliant with employment laws and best practices, so it is important to get it right. The wrong word in the wrong place could leave your business susceptible to hefty fines. If you need help or support in writing your employee handbook eBOS can assist you, so click here to contact our expert team for the opportunity to pick their brains.