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Need help with an Employment Handbook?
Do you employ people in the modern era?
The civil rights movement gave way to legislation and rules that protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, age, disability, or gender.
Fortunately, companies sought to achieve greater compliance and employee communication as a result. The employment handbook is an excellent solution for ensuring that you accomplish your human resources objectives.
After all, your employees are by far the most important resource you have.
Before typing up an employment agreement, familiarize yourself with the process. The informative article below addresses everything you need to know.
What is an Employment Handbook?
Employment handbooks are a written code of conduct that informs employees about rules and company culture. They can also function as an employment contract between you and your non-exempt talent. An employment handbook is a right choice when you hire and retain employees.
Purpose of Employment Handbooks
Employment handbooks serve to establish the rules and guidelines that employees must follow when working for your company. It can also help them understand what will happen if they violate any of these guidelines as well. A thorough, straightforward employment handbook can help you communicate these terms clearly.
The main purpose of employments handbooks includes:
- Protect employee’s federally protected rights
- Reduce the number of human resources inquiries made
- Encourage compliance among managerial staff members
- Offer a document that documents your company’s values
- Protect your rights as an employer
If you employ people, then you must draft, review, and distribute an employment handbook. However, you should familiarize yourself with the critical components so that you achieve the best possible result. Otherwise, you risk leaving out key provisions that make your document less powerful.
What’s Included in an Employment Handbook
Employment handbooks look different for every company. Some companies choose to use a shorter, less explanatory document, while others will specify as many details as possible. Each option has distinct advantages, meaning you should speak with employment lawyers to analyze your situation.
These are some sections included in an employment handbook:
- Section 1. Nondiscrimination policy
- Section 2. Communication policy
- Section 3. Compensation and benefits policy for new hires
- Section 4. Separation policy
- Section 5. Dress code provisions
- Section 6. Code of ethics policy
- Section 7. Workplace safety guidelines
- Section 8. Attendance policy
- Section 9. Acceptable use policy
- Section 10. Employee termination policy
The sections that you choose to include will depend upon your company specifically. For instance, you may offer a work environment that doesn’t enforce a dress code, which would nullify the need to include it in your employment handbook. Deploy a tried and true legal process when it comes to creating your employment handbooks.
Click here to learn about a Code of Ethics .
How To Create an Employment Handbook
It can be overwhelming to tackle the project of creating an employment handbook. There are several details to remember, which means there’s a prime opportunity to inadvertently omit essential information. Following a step-by-step checklist will help.
Here’s how to create an employment handbook:
Step 1. Decide How You Want to Start
Many companies already have an existing employment handbook that they use. In this case, you have the opportunity to review and revise the current language and design, but you could also decide to start fresh. New companies will need to start their employment handbooks from scratch.
Step 2. Draft an Employment Handbook Outline
Based on the sections that you want to address in your employment handbook, start with an outline. Take each distinct section and break it down into smaller subsections.
You will also need to consider how laws affect employment relationships, including:
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Relevant state labor laws , including break laws and leave laws
- At-will employment laws
If you choose to not address these laws in your employment handbook, it could result in employee confusion or non-compliance issues. Ensure that you address them in your employment handbooks.
Step 3. Summarize Your Policies
Your outline now serves as a basis by which you summarize each of your policies and procedures. Your employment handbook should use simple, straightforward language that doesn’t violate an employee’s civil rights. Take care to emphasize the most essential provisions through an intelligent design approach.
Ensure that you go into detail when it comes to employee rights and obligations, including:
- Eligibility for benefits
- Wage payments
- Paid overtime rules
- Paid time off (PTO) rules
- Vacation pay rules
- Dress code
- Medical leave rules
Employees tend to refer to these rules more than others. By covering them comprehensively, you could effectively reduce the number of inquiries into your human resources department.
Step 4. Review Your Employment Handbook
Once you’ve drafted and summarized each section, your next step is compiling them into a single document. Incorporate any notes and changes as directed by crucial company leaders. Produce the first draft to share with your team for a final review, and take notes of any questions or additional changes.
Image via Pexels by Craig Adderly
Step 5. Contact Employment Lawyers for a Final Review
Employment lawyers will review your employment handbook for enforceability and compliance. This step is critical, which means that you should not skip it. Keep in mind that disgruntled employees can use your employment handbook as evidence against you in a legal claim.
Your employment lawyers will take the time to determine what risk you are taking by leaving the document as-is and what improvements you can make to ensure that you remain protected. Always follow through on your lawyer’s recommendations based on statutory guidelines.
Step 6. Print or Publish Your Employment Handbook
After finalizing your employment handbook with employment lawyers, it is time to publish or print your employment handbook. Many companies today favor electronic delivery since it saves a tremendous amount of money on printing costs. In today’s world, a digital format makes the most sense, but it is also nice to receive a handbook if you can afford it.
Step 7. Distribute Employment Handbooks to Employees
The next step is to distribute the employment handbooks to your employees. Make an announcement about the distribution regarding where they can locate digital copies or receive physical ones. You should also post your employment handbooks on company intranets to which employees have routine access.
Step 8. Update As Needed
Get your managerial team on the same page when it comes to updating your employee handbooks. Consider an idea bank or repository where notes can be made and stored until it is time to update the employment handbook, as necessary. Following through on updates is essential to managerial participation in updating employment handbooks.
Getting Help with an Employment Handbook
Getting help with an employment handbook starts by working with experienced employment lawyers. Your employment handbook can be a blessing or a curse. Hire employment lawyers to ensure that they actually help your company save time and potentially money from future disputes.
Employment handbooks reflect the company’s internal values and can make or break employee engagement for new hires. Get them excited and geared up about working for your organization by clearly stating your purpose and letting employees know how they fit into the bigger picture of your business. Employment lawyers will protect your rights and help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Meet some of our Employment Handbook Lawyers
I joined Enterprise Law Group, LLP as an Associate in March 2020. My practice has involved a wide range of legal matters from commercial real estate, finance and international business transactions to litigation matters including commercial disputes, personal injury and medical malpractice. Proficient in Spanish, I graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, and the University of Southern California. Prior to my legal career, I sought diverse professional experiences. After graduating from college, I orchestrated my own volunteering experience in southern Peru with a small non-profit organization. Later I gained valuable professional experience as part of a U.S. Senate campaign, and after that I joined the public policy team at Greater Louisville, Inc., Louisville's Chamber of Commerce affiliate. Prior to law school, I embarked on a month long excursion with the Northern Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska, which gave me a new found appreciation for sustainability.
Agnes Mombrun Geter is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Mombrun Law, PLLC. She is an experienced attorney and is a member of the Florida Bar, New Jersey Bar, and the Pennsylvania Bar. The firm's practice focuses on Estate Planning, Business Law, and Debt Settlement including IRS Debt Relief. The firm's goal is to simplify the law and provide clients with the confidence and information necessary to make their decisions. The firm also provides project-based legal services to other attorneys and law firms, along with assisting as personal counsel and local counsel on legal matters.
Have over 40+ years of corporate and commercial law experience.
I am a business attorney with years of experience advising individual entrepreneurs and small businesses on issues ranging from entity selection/formation to employment law compliance, to intellectual property protection and exploitation. I often act as General Counsel for my clients fulfilling the legal function as part of a team of managers. I look forward to learning more about your business and how I may be of assistance.
Corporate and transactional attorney in sixth year of practice. Focus areas include general corporate counsel, labor and employment law, business partnership matters, securities matters related to privately-held companies, and regulatory compliance in securities and finance matters.
Forest is a general practice lawyer. He provides legal advice regarding small business law, contracts, estates and trusts, administrative law, corporate governance and compliance. Forest practiced complex commercial litigation in Florida for eight years, representing clients such as Host Marriott, Kellogg School of Business, and Toyota. Since moving to Nashville in 2005, he has provided legal advice to clients forming new businesses, planning for the future, and seeking funding through the use of equity and/or debt in their businesses. This advice has included the selection of business type, assistance in drafting and editing their business plans and offering material, reviewing proposed term sheets, and conducting due diligence. Forest is a member of the Florida, Tennessee, and Texas Bars; in addition. Forest has held a Series 7, General Securities Representative Exam, Series 24, General Securities Principal, and Series 63, Uniform Securities Agent State Law.
FL & NY licensed attorney with nearly a decade of experience in intellectual property, commercial contracts, employment, and data privacy and security. Basically, everything your business needs!