Creating Legal Protection Using An Employee Handbook

If your company has employees, a well-written employee handbook is an essential communication resource between you and your team. An effective handbook can set expectations for new hires, outline company policies, as well as enhance training and enforcement of procedures.

You can use your employee handbook to introduce your team to the company and its culture. It is important to explain what’s expected of them—and what they can expect from you. Though it should never take the place of employment agreements, your employee handbook can provide you with an extra layer of legal protection if an employee ever decides to take you to court.

Below are some important topics you should cover:

  • General company Information: Provide a general overview of your company, its philosophy, history, and culture.

  • Attendance and time-off policies: Lay out your company’s policies regarding work hours, schedules, and attendance. Here is where you may want to discuss sick leave, PTO, family and medical leave, bereavement, jury duty, and military leave. You should also list the holidays your company observes, along with your vacation policy, spelling out how vacation time is earned and how to schedule time off.

  • Anti-discrimination policies: Include a section covering the state and federal laws related to non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, and harassment. You should let employees know how they’re expected to comply and describe the procedures you have in place for reporting violations and/or complaints.

  • Compensation: Discuss the methods of payment you offer, such as check, direct deposit, and online pay applications. If applicable, this is where you discuss your overtime policies.

  • Standards of conduct: Discuss your expectations and rules for employee behavior. This can include a variety of issues such as: dress code, cell-phone use, alcohol/substance use, etc…You should also discuss any conflict-resolution procedures and employee discipline processes.

  • Benefits: Include a brief summary of the benefits you offer, such as healthcare, life insurance, dental, vision, and retirement plans. Discuss who’s eligible for benefits and how to enroll.

  • Employee safety and security: Lay out your policies for creating a safe and secure workplace. This might include your compliance with any applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws requiring employees to report accidents, injuries, and potential safety hazards. Given the pandemic you should clearly outline any rules or policies you have related to COVID-19 here. This may include policies and procedures concerning social distancing, masking, remote work, vaccinations, and symptom checking.

  • Remote and hybrid work policies: If your company offers remote or hybrid work arrangements, make sure you formalize your policies. In addition, you should consider the impact remote work has on employee-related issues, such as compliance, cybersecurity, employee engagement, and liability. Clearly document any rules or policies affecting these issues.

  • Employment acknowledgment page: To verify that your employees have read and agree to abide by these rules, you should include an acknowledgment page at the end, which employees are required to sign. The acknowledgment should state that the employee has read, understands, and agrees to follow the handbook’s policies. It’s a good idea to make this page detachable, and once signed, place it in their personnel file.

Enlist Our Support From its initial creation and editing to the final approval before printing, we can help you with every step of developing your employee handbook. And given your handbook covers sensitive legal issues, it’s actually vital that you allow us to review your handbook before it’s printed.

That said, an employee handbook is no substitute for comprehensive employment agreements. We can help you draft these legal agreements for your team, and then support you to coordinate their content with your employee handbook, so you have every possible document in place to protect your business from liability and stay in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Contact Truest Law today to learn more!