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What is an Employee Handbook and Do We Need One?

Many employers have rules they want employees to follow. Businesses of all sizes can make an employee handbook part of their human resource practices. The handbook is the ideal way to provide information to employees and can promote a structured workplace. The handbook can be a simple one-page document or a complete booklet of many pages, depending on your specific needs. An experienced employment law attorney will assist you in drafting an employee handbook that meets your particular needs.

Benefits of an Employee Handbook

An employee handbook allows employers to put rules in place that will apply to all employees. The handbook makes it easier to be fair and objective because you can apply the same standards to all employees. You will be less likely to face discrimination complaints if you follow the rules you set forth in the handbook. A handbook makes it easier for supervisors to manage employees and can be helpful in small companies where there is no formal human resources department. Large businesses benefit by keeping the rules the same throughout departments and across company locations.

What to Include in an Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is critical when you want to ensure a uniform workplace. You may include matters such as dress code, sick time, vacations, and more. You can also provide details for how warnings and terminations are to occur. For instance, you should include what types of infractions are considered a cause for written warnings and others that may be grounds for immediate termination. It is beneficial to be as specific as possible so there are no misunderstandings regarding your expectations for employees. It is critical that you update the handbook on a regular basis and ensure all employees have received and understand the document.

Is an Employee Handbook Legally Binding?

In many instances, the employee handbook is considered an extension of an employment contract and therefore is legally binding. It is essential that you make sure the employees read and sign a document that proves they have received a copy of the handbook and understand the information. The handbook will be of little value if you do not have the employees read the document. When an update is necessary, you must provide revised copies to employees and have them sign off. It is important to note that if the employer fails to follow the rules in their handbook the employee may have grounds for legal action. While there are many template forms available, the best employee handbooks are those that you design specifically for your company. You should have an attorney review the handbook to make sure it properly protects you as you expect.

An employee handbook can be extremely helpful in controlling your workforce and ensuring that you provide consistent customer service. It is also a critical document that gives employees the rules and expectations they must follow in order to continue employment. To learn more about employment law, contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or by phone at (608) 784-8310.

Published June 11, 2021
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