For any business, the employee handbook is a critical asset – both for the employer and the employee. Handbooks are a great communication tool – they set forth everything from company culture to company benefits and offers a good overview of the work environment. A healthy business has an accessible and up-to-date handbook that outlines important information, but be careful: you might be vulnerable to lawsuits if you accidentally omit certain clauses.
What is the purpose of an employee handbook?
The most important value the handbook communicates to employees is the introduction to the corporate culture, mission, and values. Especially with new employees, you want to foster a sense of community and belonging – hopefully even pride. A great introduction section establishes all of this. Without a handbook your employees will almost certainly forget something, wasting their time and yours.
Other key roles the handbook provides:
- Your handbook highlights and explains the expectations of employees while also informing them what to expect from your leadership.
- A good employee handbook educates about company policies and benefits while also detailing things like attendance and employee dress codes.
- Your handbook outlines discipline policy, workplace safety, emergency procedures, and termination policies.
All the information an employee could possibly want during their employment period at your business is contained – concisely and informatively – within your handbook.
How do I create an employee handbook?
Lawyers exist for a reason. They are the bane of one’s existence until you need one, in which case they become your best friend. Compliance with local and federal laws and regulations is not hard, but keeping up with the ever changing laws and regulations is difficult for anyone. To ensure that your small business’ employee handbook is up-to-date and in compliance seek out the guidance of an employment attorney licensed in your area.
For those small business owners who are inclined to learn how to write an employee handbook themselves, there are many resources. The Small Business Administration is a great place to start. Regardless if you draft the handbook yourself, you will need to proof it. Research licensed employment attorneys in your area. A couple hours of their time can save you hundreds if not thousands of hours of hassle if you avoid lawsuits and remain in compliance with important labor laws like the FLSA.
You cannot enforce rules that an employee did not read, so make sure to have an expert – like an employment attorney – review the clauses included in the handbook. Even the most diligent and meticulous of small business owners might have omitted a clause that could cause big legal hassles down the road. Keep yourself, your employees and your business healthy and happy by having a great employee handbook.
How often should I review and update it?
If you already have a great handbook, it’s still very important to keep it updated and in compliance with changing regulations. When was the last time you reviewed your company policies? Are they still in compliance with the law? At the least, you need to review if your information is current. As the owner, you can get in trouble for not having current information in your employee handbook, to say nothing of omitting a new section or clause. All of the information for you is out there, but it is very time-consuming to track it all down and ensure the accuracy.
Aliat Employee Handbooks
When a business partners with Aliat, we review their employee handbook and make sure it is up to date. If a business does not have an employee handbook, our HR team works with them to create one that is in compliance with state and federal laws.
Need help with your employee handbook? Please Request a Consultation to speak with our HR experts.