Employment Handbooks

The Purpose of the Employment Handbook

The employment handbook (also commonly referred to as an “employee’s handbook”) is an essential business document. According to most authoritative sources, the clear majority of businesses with 10 or more employees have an employment handbook. Many human resources professionals recommend that all businesses with employees draft such a handbook. A company’s employment handbook fulfills many key purposes. For one, your employment handbook provides a convenient and effective method to bring essential information to new employees. Whenever a new employee is hired, your new employee will likely be filled with questions about your company; the employment handbook allows many of the most common questions to be answered quickly and easily.

Your employment handbook also provides a way for you to communicate important information about your company’s history, values, underlying purpose, goals, and philosophy. In other words, your employment handbook will give you an opportunity to really explain to your employees about the real nature of your company. Why was the company founded? What are its values? How does your company differentiate itself from other companies in its industry? You can touch on these and other related issues in your handbook.

Items to Include in an Employment Handbook

  • Essentials for New Hires
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Basic Information on the Work Environment
  • Communication Guidelines
  • Information on Compensation and Employee Reviews
  • Employee Benefits
  • Company History and Company Philosophy

Your employment handbook allows you to clearly lay out information about how your company operates. You can discuss codes of conduct, such as dress policies, as well as expectations regarding anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, disciplinary procedures, and so forth.

In addition, you can provide basic information about your work environment and culture. For instance, you may lay out your policy regarding work-from-home opportunities, lunchbreaks, break periods, workplace safety, and so on. You can also specify your stance toward communication among employees via email and telephone during work hours.

You will always want to include information regarding employee compensation, as well as what to expect about performance reviews. Spell out your payroll schedule, salary and bonuses, attendance expectations and policies, transfers, promotions, paycheck deductions, and so on. You will also want to discuss the various employee benefits provided by the company, including vacation and sick time.

All Handbooks Should Be Reviewed by Legal Counsel

Every employment handbook is unique. These are just a few examples of the type of information commonly found in handbooks. However, no matter what specific things are included, it is imperative that businesses have their employment handbooks reviewed thoroughly by legal counsel prior to publication and dissemination. The reason for this is because you want to be certain about the potential legal implications of your statements within your handbook.

There are some statements which cannot be made, even though you may wish to make them. For instance, if you include a statement such as “you must be respectful of the company at all times,” this will not pass legal scrutiny. The reason for this is because the wording implies that all forms of criticism are forbidden, and this would be illegal. Your employees must be able to make certain kinds of criticisms of your company, or you may violate the law.

Consider another example. Suppose you include a statement such as “you are forbidden to discuss all information related to the company or customers with outside personnel.” In this case, the statement would need to be amended, as it is overly broad. It would need to be changed to communicate a policy against sharing confidential information, rather than all information. These are just a couple of quick examples which illustrate the need for you to have your handbook reviewed by counsel. If you don’t have your handbook properly reviewed, you could end up having policies which are actually illegal, and face severely negative consequences.

Contact a Top South Florida Employment Law Firm

The team at the Trembly Law Firm can assist in the preparation and review of your employment handbook. We can help you determine what information to include, and also review information to ensure compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations. The lawyers at the Trembly Law Firm bring great expertise in the many areas of employment law and can guide you through the difficult process of creating, reviewing and publishing your employment handbook. Give us a call today to learn more.

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