Far too many business owners, particularly small business owners, tend to neglect creating an employee handbook. Perhaps some believe they are too small to require such extensive documentation, or maybe they want to cultivate an informal workplace culture. Whatever the reason, if you own a business that employs more than a few people or plans to do so in the future, then you are taking a massive risk by failing to create a thorough and clear employee handbook.
The importance of such a document cannot be overemphasized. Your handbook should clearly detail all of your workplace procedures and policies, and include language that will minimize your legal risks when it comes to any future potential employee lawsuits.
No one expects an employee lawsuit until it happens. It is a simple fact of business ownership that there will likely come a time when you will have to take action against an employee that has broken the rules in some way, or a negative situation will arise from an employee’s failure to follow established procedures that results in them taking action against you. Whatever the case, it is vital that your policies and procedures be clearly and equally defined for all of your employees so that you have legal protection to fall back upon if an employee ever takes you to court.
By creating an employee handbook, all of your employees will have a detailed understanding of your expectations, leaving no room for interpretation. Whenever you hire a new employee, you will also ensure that they receive the same information about your company’s policies and procedures that the rest of your employees have received, rather than running the risk of leaving out important information.
You will certainly want to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable business attorney in order to utilize the proper legal language that will provide you with effective protection if you are faced with an employee lawsuit, as well as to figure out the various things your company should include in its handbook. Nonetheless, we have provided a brief list below of some of the essential clauses and inclusions that most employee handbooks should incorporate.
- Introduction with company history
- Pay/Salary details
- Substance abuse policy (drugs and alcohol)
- Harassment policy
- Attendance policy
- Disciplinary structure including complaints
- Workplace policies including expected behavior
- Safety rules
- Electronic communications policy
- Employee acknowledgement page
You should also include language regarding things mandated by federal law, such as FMLA, nondiscrimination policies, and worker’s compensation.
To learn more about employee handbook best practices, or for help developing your company’s handbook, please contact the Trembly Law Firm today.