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Employee Handbook: What It Should Contain

Posted by attorney Todd Gallinger

As a written set of rules and expectations and a detailed account of a company’s policies and procedures, an employee handbook is a necessary communicative tool between the employer and employees. A well-written employee handbook is the key ingredient for a healthy business, and should be clear and consistent.

Although there is no fixed format, most employee handbooks generally include similar company policies such as employment, standards of conduct, wage and salary, benefits and services, and federal acts. Welcoming statements, oriental procedures, disclaimers, forms of acknowledgment, and definitions are also incorporated into the handbooks as well.

Common employment policies outlined in employee handbooks are: o Non-discrimination/ Non-disclosure/confidentiality o Office hours/lunch/break periods o Personnel files/data changes o Performance review o Employment termination (This includes the “at-will" provision, in which the employer has the right to terminate an employee at any time, and an employee has the right to quit at any time) o Safety/health related issues/employees requiring medical attention o Supplies; Expenditures; Obligating the company o Expense reimbursement o Visitors in the Workplace o Immigration Law Compliance

Standards of conduct policies detailed in handbooks generally include: o Attendance o Absence without notice o Harassment, including sexual harassment o Use of company property—telephone, email, internet etc o Substance abuse o Smoking/tobacco products

Wage and salary policies: o Promotions o Timekeeping o Overtime o Payday

Benefits and Services: o Insurance o COBRA o Social Security/Medicare o Vacation/Holidays o Jury Duty/Military Leave o Family/Maternity/Sick leave o Training and Professional development

Note that these policies are just general suggestions, and that each company has the freedom to draft its own handbook according to its own unique policies and procedures.

A well-drafted employee handbook is able to explain these policies concisely and clearly, as length is not always an indication of quality. The purpose of the employee handbook is to inform employers and employees of the company’s expectations, therefore the manual should be comprehensible.

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