Staffing Resources

Preventing HR Nightmares – Setting Up an Employee Handbook

March 31st, 2015

If your organization is new to hiring employees or just hasn’t gotten around to developing an employee handbook, it could be at risk for a human resource related lawsuit. Don’t take any more chances. It’s time to set up a simple, yet effective employee handbook that can document your workplace policies now. Here’s how to get started.

Understanding the Elements of an Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is a written manual that includes documentation about your business, policies, procedures, and information about the company human resources, including important payroll and benefits details. It’s vital that your employee manual includes the following elements in order to comply with state and federal human resource laws:

Company Disclaimer & Structure

Describes the organizational leadership, structure, vision, and mission statement. States that the employee manual is not a contract of employment. Provide a short directory of who to contact for what.

Employee Definitions

Clearly states the nature of employment for all who conduct work on behalf of the company, including at-will statements as appropriate for the state and region.

Work Hours & Payroll

Provides information about the open business hours, required work seven-day work hours for employees, and any applicable information about overtime pay, holiday pay, paid time off, timekeeping, and other payroll matters.

General Work Policies & Procedures

This is a detailed section that includes any policies that apply to your company. This can include facility and equipment use, safety matters, sexual harassment, drug and alcohol use, dress code, customer service, background checks, time card and pay period management, holidays and time off policies, and more.

Employee Benefits

Along with the policies stated above, your employee manual needs a section dedicated to the group-sponsored benefits you offer to all employees. This can include information about the types of health insurance, life insurance, retirement financial products, health savings arrangements, and voluntary benefit programs you offer. Include plan rates, eligibility requirements, and forms.

Disciplinary and Performance

Your workplace also needs to provide information about how and when performance reviews will be handled, and disciplinary actions if employees fail to perform or violate company policies. This section alone can help prevent wrongful termination lawsuits and facilitate unemployment insurance claims.

Once you have included all of these elements in your new employee handbook, it’s time to have it carefully reviewed by a lawyer who is familiar with human resource law. If you meet all the requirements you can then distribute it to your employees in a printed format and also digitally once a year or as new policies are added or revised.

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