Every time you hire a new employee, you add value to your company. You now have a new team member who can use their existing skills or be trained to accomplish tasks that improve your products, services, and the way they are delivered to customers.
You also have a potential problem, unless you have an employee handbook.
Imagine that once his probation period is over, your new hire starts coming in late at least once a week, and it doesn’t take long for his absenteeism to slow down the rest of the team. When you talk to your attorney about firing him, she says that without an employee handbook that specifies the penalty for such conduct, letting him go could have repercussions.
Many small businesses lack a handbook or policy manual for their employees. Their reasons are varied: some employers believe that their operation is too basic, while others like to feel that they offer a more relaxed and congenial work environment. The truth is that no matter what the size of your workforce is or how easygoing the culture may be, there are four reasons why your business needs an employee handbook.
1. Creates Firm Workplace Policies
One of the biggest advantages of a solid employee handbook is that it makes workplace policies clear. This includes:
- Procedures for handling human resources matters such as harassment claims
- Office hours and designated break times
- Attendance policies
- Expected standards of workplace behavior
- Whether or not telecommuting is permitted
- Overtime regulations
- Compensatory time rules for exempt employees
- Social media
Handbooks keep your entire workforce on the same page, so there is little opportunity for an expensive misunderstanding later on. Each book should include a page that new employees can detach, sign to confirm that they read and understood their handbook, and return to you.
- Outlines Employee Benefits
Employee handbooks are a valuable way to outline company benefits such as:
- Retirement benefits
- Paid time off
- Group health plans
- Profit sharing guidelines
Getting these important perks in writing can help answer any questions a new employee has about their benefits package and prevent future misunderstanding.
- Compliance with Applicable Laws
There are federal, state, and even local laws (e.g. municipal paid sick leave) that legally require certain company policies to be in writing, and your handbook is the ideal place to do so. Your attorney can advise you on which policies must be included to ensure that you comply with legal requirements affecting your business.
- Defense Against Employee Claims
When company policies and procedures are in a handbook, you decrease the risk of a terminated employee later claiming that they did not know or understand your expectations. Inclusion of an anti-harassment policy can also provide an affirmative defense to future claims of discrimination or harassment.
Once you create an employee handbook, be sure to review and update it on a scheduled basis to confirm ongoing compliance with changing employment laws. If company policies are added or changed, update and re-issue the book. Failure to do so could expose you to future legal problems.
No matter how many employees you have on your workforce, a comprehensive employee handbook is an essential tool in running your company. At Rosen Law LLC, we can review your existing manual to verify that it complies with current laws, help you create a new one, and advise you on any claims that may arise when an employee alleges that they misunderstood or were unaware of its contents. For more information about our business law services, call Rosen Law today at (516) 437-3400 or contact us here.