Employee Handbooks

A well-crafted employee handbook is a boon to employers, who often seen them as a necessary evil. But a good handbook is an effective communication tool between you and your employees. If well-written and thoughtfully designed, it clearly conveys expectations for both you and your employees.

What Makes A Good Handbook?

A good handbook has a number of identifying characteristics. First of all, it will be crafted after the owner has spent time identifying what is important to the business, both in keeping the employees informed and happy, as well as accomplishing the business objectives of the company. This includes how pay decisions are arrived at, how they are rated on their performance, how the company treats things like sick leave and other benefits, how the company views work-life programs and how they will be treated in a dispute. Having all those issues spelled out can free up an employee to do their best work without worries that an employer will treat them unfairly.

Second, it will be written in a clear and understandable manner. High-falutin’ language may sound grand to lawyers, but the average employee just wants to know what the point is and how it affects them. Most policies will be a paragraph or two in length, not pages, and the layout should be logical, so that people can find what they need easily.

Third, it will contain the items required by law. Federal, state, and local agencies have laws that you and your employees must abide by. For example, Family Medical Leave, equal employment, and other non-discriminatory policies are all required by Federal law. Other laws that might require inclusion in employee handbooks are policies regarding accommodation of disabilities, policies on military leave, policies on breast-feeding accommodation, and crime victims leave policies.

Can I Use a Pre-Fab or Template Handbook?

There are a number of sites that sell ‘fill in the blank’ handbooks. If you have no other alternative, go ahead, but using a professional is a much better idea. Those template books don’t account for variations in state law, industry, or even company size. If you don’t have federal contracts and are only a handful of employees, the ADA rules don’t apply to your company – keeping them in the handbook may actually open you up for future liability.

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Lisa Mc Sherry

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