Human Resources

Employee Handbook: Why You Need One

Human Resources

“If you want something to happen, you have to make people able and you have to make them want to.” – Dr. Steve Kerr (Former CEO of General Electric and Goldman Sachs)

In a time where company culture has become the fundamental foundation for any thriving business, an employee handbook has become one of the most valuable and versatile tools for employers to use in defining workplace culture and driving company growth. Instead of just writing out workplace do’s and don’ts in complex legalese, taking the time to develop a well-rounded employee handbook with sound employment policies and practices from an emotionally intelligent perspective truly sets the tone for company culture and business value. Your employee handbook should develop and become more sophisticated as your company does for the following reasons.

Employer Expectations

When an employer has no written policies, common practices tend to become policy by default. This may open the flood gates to potential miscommunications and unnecessary disputes with employees in regard to what the employer actually expects from its employees and what the employer may have told employee was policy.

For example, in instances where employees request their employers to do something outside the scope of normal workplace practices, it may become difficult to track all of those requests on a case-by-case basis. If an employer grants requests for certain employees and not for others, it may raise employment discrimination issues. A handbook containing sound employment policies that both the employer and employee can refer to can help deter these potential issues in the workplace.

  • How will you enforce a hem line issue without a dress code policy?
  • How can you fire someone for being late to work with no attendance or hour policy?
  • Do you expect discrimination complaints to be reported, if you do not have a policy, how can you be sure they will be?

In fact, valuable company time may be wasted if employees have to constantly ask questions about basic employment policies and expectations. An employer can significantly reduce its administrative burdens by compiling all important company values, expectations, and policies in one place: the employee handbook.

Compliance with the Law

Although the law doesn’t require a full blown employee handbook (assuming you have some key policies written somewhere), a well-drafted handbook may help reduce the potential risks and expenses for a variety of employee lawsuits by providing all the information an employer is legally required to provide to its employees in one document. A handbook should protect a business by being legally watertight just in case something goes wrong.

It is also important for an employer to maintain an up-to-date employee handbook with consistent changes in the law while also ensuring that any such updated policies actually work in practice.

Key: make sure you have only the policies that apply to your sizer company in your handbook. A company with 5 employees should not outline ADA and FMLA. They do not apply and you may have to cover if you do not accurately reflect your policy in your handbook.

So, while you may grab a template Handbook for your company from an HR provider, at the very least, have a law firm review and make edits to your handbook. It can save you from a future law suit.

Key Policies

(not inclusive)

  • Leave of Absence
  • Pregnancy disability
  • Policy for adoption or birth of child
  • Sick Policy (California Requires sick time)
  • PTO – how requested, accrued and when can be used
  • What if everyone wants the week between Christmas and New Year’s  day off?
  • Late and Unexcused Absence Policy
  • Policy for complaints with exact contact information.
  • Dress Code

Conclusion

These are just some of the reasons why taking the time to develop an employee handbook will help deter certain legal issues and preserve your business’s most valuable asset: company culture. Let Slate Law Group help draft an authentic employee handbook that will cater to your specific business needs.

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