Businesses with more than a few employees can enjoy numerous advantages to writing an employee handbook. In this guide we’ll show you how to write one, and give you some tools and templates to make it easier.
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Fully-Written Employee Handbook Examples
If you want to see a fully written employee handbook to use as a reference, we recommend using this one from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). It’s a very detailed and well-organized handbook that can serve as a reference piece as you write your own. The only downside is you won’t find your state-specific policies.
FormSwift, on the other hand, has an employee handbook generator tool that will include your state-specific policies. It will also include your payroll and benefits policies, which you can outline in a questionnaire. The tool is free to use, although you’ll have to sign up for a trial account in order to download the handbook as a PDF or DOC file.
If you do choose to write a handbook on your own, it’s recommended that business owners consult an employment law attorney. This is not only to ensure you’re including all the key points, but also to review your wording and ensure that it won’t put you in any unnecessary trouble.
Employee Handbook Template
Here are all the key elements you’ll want to include in your employee handbook. Note that many policies, such as anti-discrimination laws, workers compensation, work breaks and family and medical leave are subject to federal and state laws. You can read more about these laws here on the SBA website.
- Under federal and state law, many businesses are required to state anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies
- Even if you’re not legally required, establishing these policies in a handbook can protect you from liability in the event that an incident occurs at your business
- For more information, check out this blog post from the SBA
Code of Conduct
- This is where you detail all of your business policies
- For example, what is your dress code, policy on cell phones in the workplace, switching shifts, parking, etc.?
- Explain the pay schedule
- List taxes and deductions an employee should expect to see on their paystub
- Explain your Worker’s Compensation policy
- Explain your overtime policy
- What is your policy on attendance and breaks?
- For example, do you permit flexible work hours or telecommuting?
- Be sure to include information on state-mandated work breaks and/or lunch breaks
Safety & Security
- General safety policy: For example, do visitors/customers need to sign in / be escorted? Does personal property need to remain in a locker?
- Outline procedures in case of an emergencies
- Include fire, severe weather, workplace injury, robbery, etc.
- Detail all benefits offered to your employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, transportation benefits, etc.
- Explain Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Explain PTO, sick days, and how an employee is to request off
- List holidays
- Explain jury duty time off, voting time off, military leave and other leave policies
Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) and Conflict of Interest Statements
- This is only needed for businesses with important trade secrets or intellectual property
- A nondisclosure agreement (NDA) helps protect your trade secrets and intellectual property. By adding their signature, an employee agrees not to share your confidential information for a set period of time.
- A conflict of interests statement helps prevent situations where an employee may act against the interest of the business. Examples include doing work for a competitor or offering a discount to customers in exchange for a personal gift.
Why Write an Employee Handbook?
As your business begins to grow, an employee handbook is a simple way to consolidate all of your workplace policies. It will also encourage you to think of policies in areas you may not have yet – such as what to do in the event of a fire, or how to handle Family and Medical Leave.
An employee handbook also ensures employees are treated fairly, as the same policies will apply to everyone at your business.
While employee handbooks are not legally required, they can give you an important legal defense in the event of litigation against your business. For example, if a former employee were to sue you for wrongful termination, the code of conduct in your employee handbook could be key to your defense. Likewise, by outlining your anti-discrimination policies and dedication to a safe workplace, you can protect yourself from some liability in the event that an incident occurs at your business.
The Bottom Line
When should I write an employee handbook? In the UK, employee handbooks are required by law once you have 5 or more employees. The US does not have any such requirements, but it’s a good idea to implement one at about the same time. Remember – a handbook protects both you and your employees, so there’s nothing to lose by writing one early.
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