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Employee Handbooks

Federal and state laws and the growing number of cases of employee related litigation against management strongly suggests that a written statement of company policy is a business necessity for firms of any size.  An employee handbook is one of the most important communication tools between you and your employees. When well written and organized properly, it clearly sets forth your expectations for employees, describes what they can expect from your company, and lays out your legal obligations as an employer and your employee's rights.  Let HR Dynamics assist you in creating a custom handbook that represents and protects your company.

THE THREE C's OF EMPLOYEES HANDBOOKS

Content

Deciding what to include in your handbook can be a challenge. On the one hand, you want to include enough information to make the handbook useful. On the other hand, you don't want to include so much information that it restricts your company's activities. Determine what is important to you as a business. Do you care about your employees appearance at work? Do you want them to refrain from text messaging while on the job?

Most employee handbooks generally include information about company policies such as pay policy, work hours, dress code, safety procedures, vacation time, sick days, paid holidays, and other fringe benefits. Companies should also include information about behavior such as substance abuse, e-mail and computer usage and non-discrimination and harassment policies. Another general disclaimer clearly stating that the handbook is not an employment contract should always be included. If the company is subject to certain laws such as FMLA (50 or more employees) then these policies must also be addressed. It is also extremely important that the content is communicated to employees and that they are encouraged to review the handbook regularly. A warm welcome and some basic information about the company helps to establish employee engagement.

Clarity

Your handbook may cover all the bases, but if it is difficult to read and understand it has no value. With that in mind, the goal is to produce a document that is as simple and concise as possible.

Length is not necessarily an indication of quality. Some of the best handbooks are no more than a few pages long, while some really bad ones are nearly book length. Remember: The key is readability.

Consistency

The basis for most lawsuits is inconsistency, plain and simple. To some degree, your employee handbook can protect your business from civil litigation, but only if it demonstrates consistency in its documentation and application.

Avoid including policies and procedures just because they seem like a good idea. In other words, if your employee handbook says that you will perform quarterly performance reviews, then make sure you actually perform those reviews in a timely manner. Always state that policies are subject to change.

Similarly, the policies and procedures covered in the handbook must apply to all employees. Selective application of policies is an open invitation for litigation by disgruntled employees.

You should always require your employees to sign a statement confirming that they have received a copy of the handbook and understand the policies it contains.

 



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