A good employee handbook can help protect you from possible liability while keeping your employees excited to come to work. It helps everyone get on the same page about what they need to do and how they need to do it. Whenever your employees have a question about a work-related policy, they should be able to turn to their handy handbook for an answer.
If you’re creating your own handbook from scratch, here are some key pieces to include:
1. Start with an introduction
Talk about your company’s history, mission, and values, or any other color that will bring your handbook to life. This section can help set the tone for how you want to build a culture.
2. Outline your company policies
Before you begin, check out your state’s labor website to give you a rundown of all the policies you need to address from the get-go. It’s also smart to consult your CPA and legal counsel to make sure your handbook is in good shape. Some topics to cover include:
- Workplace safety
- Anti-discrimination policies
- Code of conduct
- Performance review logistics
- Overview of the benefits you offer
- Eligibility requirements for benefits
- PTO policy
- Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
- Conflicts of interest statement
3. Include team-specific details
Once you make it through the majority of items above, pepper in anything else that matters. These can include things like flexible work arrangements, social media policies, parking, cell phone usage, dress code, and other factors that are important to your team.
4. Get sign-off
Once you have a draft of your handbook, run it up the HR flagpole and get it in front of a lawyer so you can be extra sure you’re not missing anything crucial. Then it’ll be time to get your employees’ signatures. The final page of your handbook should be an acknowledgment form that employees sign to signal their understanding and access to your policies.
5. Keep it up to date
Employment laws frequently change, so you’ll need to stay on the ball to make sure your handbook is written to address new laws. That means having a lawyer or HR consultant review your handbook every six to 12 months. If you do make any changes to your handbook, make sure to have your employees sign new acknowledgment forms. The process of getting their signatures will help draw attention to any changes in your policies, and it can help prove they knew of the changes if you ever wind up in a dispute.
Updated August 18, 2017
This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business.