Employee Handbook Essentials

As a business owner, you have many things on your mind like logistics, staffing, cash flow, and payroll, to name a few. Whether you are a new business or an established business managing their day-to-day operations, you have a lot to consider to keep things running smoothly. One thing that often gets left out of planning is an employee handbook. It may not be on the radar for someone starting up a new business, or a small employer may think they do not need one. No federal and state regulation mandates handbooks, but even if handbooks are not required, having one is certainly in the best interest of any size employer.

A well-crafted employee handbook does many things. Such as:

  • establishes and guides your company culture
  • gives employees an overview of your policies and practices
  • provides guidelines and details about benefits at your company or organization
  • sets guidelines on acceptable behaviors and conduct for employees at all levels of your business
  • sets the foundation to show that you operate and abide by federal, state, and local regulations

Providing a handbook to your employees will give them a good understanding of their rights and benefits and the company’s expectations and values. It can answer many questions for an employee, so they are not constantly asking management and also ensures consistency across the organization. Even small employers can find that establishing these values and policies early on can streamline processes while they grow.

While handbooks can be customized, a business should always include some things:

  • Any federal, state, or local regulations that impact your business, such as EEOC and anti-discrimination statements.
  • Standards of conduct, including but not limited to: theft, harassment, violence in the workplace, and social media.
  • Compensation policies
  • Workplace Safety and Security
  • Employee Benefits
  • Time-off Policies, paid or unpaid as they apply to your business
  • A handbook receipt and acknowledgment statement/signature page

Having a well-crafted Vacation or PTO policy can do several things for your business. Such as:

  • establishing the category of employees covered by the policy
  • clearly defining how much vacation time employees will receive
  • defining how an employee receives this time (an accrual per pay period or a lump sum annually)
  • explaining how to request time-off
  • defining what happens with remaining time-off at the end of the period or termination

Listing out these different requirements on how PTO or vacation must be treated ensures employees know you follow regulations. Employees will also know what to expect each year with their benefits and what to expect in the event they quit or are fired. This can help you. A clearly defined policy can be of great assistance when responding to a wage-and-hour claim an employee has made that they were not paid out vacation or PTO at their termination.

Likewise, having clear expectations for conduct is helpful when providing coaching or corrective actions to an employee. It allows the employer to clearly define unacceptable behavior – such as attendance, tardiness, harassment, or even working unauthorized overtime. It also shows the employee was advised by the employee handbook and agreed to abide by the handbook policies by signing an acknowledgment statement. This is helpful in many situations, from responding to an unemployment claim to responding to a DOL Wage and Hour Claim or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation.

Having a well-crafted employee handbook lays the foundation for protecting your company.

Your handbook keeps employees informed of policies and provides the framework for any coaching or disciplinary actions. Not just having, but using the handbook allows an employer to show that they abide by their policies and apply them consistently to all employees. Many employers have been able to defend their actions during a court case and investigation by showing that:
1. all employees receive a handbook
2. coaching and corrective actions draw directly from the handbook
3. the company consistently applies policies to all employees
4. decisions for disciplinary actions are in response to unacceptable behaviors

If you have questions about handbooks and policies, contact My HR Professionals. My HR Professionals can provide your business with the support you need to draft a handbook that works for your business, location, and number of employees.

For questions or additional information contact us! | (479) 474-7752 | |

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