Are all employers required to have an employee handbook? If you answered "no" to this question, you are technically correct. There are no federal or state laws that specifically require companies to create and maintain employee handbooks. HOWEVER, we strongly suggest doing so since, regardless of your company's size, having an employee handbook is a good business practice. There are many laws requiring employers to notify employees of workplace rights (e.g. EEO, sexual harassment, ADA, FMLA), and this document can help with that. In fact, a well-crafted employee handbook helps protect both employer and employees. Following are five specific reasons why having a handbook might be a good idea for your organization.
- Clearly Defines Employee Expectations - An employee handbook lays out what your company’s policies and procedures are, so employees cannot later claim they did not know what was expected in a particular circumstance. The employee handbook is the perfect place to outline things like conduct, ethics, dress code, procedures for requesting time-off, and what to do about an unscheduled absence.
- Protects in Discrimination or Harassment Lawsuits - We recommend stating, in writing, that your company prohibits discrimination on the basis of protected classes. Written policies help show employees - as well as demonstrate in the event of litigation - your organization's intent to be fair and treat everyone equally.
- Sets Social Media Guidelines - Such policies discourage an employee from speaking on behalf of the company when he or she is not authorized to do so. It allows you to prohibit certain social media activities that could harm your company, to the extent authorized by law. It can also ensure that contacts from the media are directed to the proper person within your organization.
- Builds Employee Morale - Transparency builds trust. The employee handbook opens doors of communication between employees and managers. Employees that are encouraged to communicate with their employer are much more likely to do so. When employees feel like they are heard and action is taken, they are typically more engaged and invested in the company.
- Outlines Employee Benefits that are Offered - A great benefits package should be touted, as it can help retain the most valuable employees. Employees will also talk to their friends about the great benefits their company offers, and those individuals may someday become valuable new recruits.
Another related practice we highly recommended is to have employees sign an acknowledgement form stating that they have been provided the document and have read it. These forms should also be signed when updated handbooks are distributed.
Just like doing taxes, changing the batteries in smoke detectors, or spring cleaning, it is a good idea to review your handbook on an annual basis, as each year there are new policy regulations and recommendations that should be communicated to employees.
If you would like additional guidance or a refresher on what policies should be included in the employee handbook, please join our complimentary October webinar on Thursday, October 24th at 11:00am PDT.
Taking Care of Business: Employee Handbooks
When registering for this webinar, please ensure that you put
Bennett/Porter & Associates in the “referred by” registration field.