Whether you have 5 employees or 50, you need an employee handbook to set the tone for the workplace. Not only does this present all company policies in one convenient place, but also it serves to protect you, as the employer, in the event of any potential litigation. If you’re just starting out and lack the human resources manpower to develop your own handbook, we can help! We’ll work with you to develop policies and personnel procedures that suit your business, as well as your mission. There are a few things you should be sure to include:
- What you expect from your employees.
Obviously, this will vary depending on the job title, so you want to include general policies that would apply to all employees—without being overbroad. Try to focus on workplace behavior that’s important to you. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your staff, then now’s your chance to specify a dress code for implementation. Or, if misuse of technology is more important, you can list acceptable versus unacceptable uses of technology (such as cellphones, email, internet access, etc.) while at work.
This is also the place to discuss core issues like employee leave policies and breaks. Whether you’re going to provide paid time off or not, it’s better to at least have a policy in place for requesting off from work or calling in sick. Especially if your company is required to comply with the federal Family Leave Act, you should bring it up in this section. It will prevent issues from arising down the road—even if you haven’t had any problems thus far. Set procedures for taking breaks for lunch or personal reasons will also let employees know what their options (as well as limitations) are for a more productive work environment.
Be sure to touch on legally-mandated inclusions like anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. While you don’t have to go into great detail on these subjects, these are some of the most common causes for lawsuits against employers, so you need to have something in writing to protect your interests. Since there are regulations for this at the federal, state, and local levels, we can help you stay in compliance when drafting or reviewing your handbook.
- What your employees can expect from you.
Just like you have certain expectations of your employees, your staff will appreciate a little reciprocity and accountability on your end. Especially when it concerns compensation. You can outline the frequency of payroll, what day paychecks will be issued, and if there are any firm policies on bonuses, stock options, etc. Along these lines, you can also discuss the company’s official policy on advancement and performance reviews. Be sure, though, that you follow through on what you promise.
Here you can also discuss employee benefits. When you’re just starting out, this section may be a little smaller, but that’s one of the reasons you should review and update the employee handbook at regular intervals. It’s best to refer to the general categories like health, dental, vision, disability, life, and workmen’s compensation rather than specific insurance carriers and/or plans. That way, you won’t necessarily have to update your handbook every year.
Also, you might want to introduce your company’s history and mission here. Not that it’s required, but it can go a long way to set the tone for both the handbook and your workplace environment. If your employees know what you’re trying to accomplish from the outset, they’re more likely to be onboard with your purpose. In fact, it can unite your staff in a way that compensation can’t. Plus, this will help to break up the long list of do’s and don’ts that often characterize an employee handbook.
Once we’ve included all pertinent parts, we can also help you to vet, review, and even create accompanying personnel forms to complete your employee portfolio. Not only will this ensure a smoother work environment, but also it can help try to protect you in the event of any employer-employee legal issues. So, whether you need to completely draft an employee handbook, or to update your policies, contact our experienced team at the Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A.