A detailed employee handbook is a must-have for any company. It provides your team with answers about company policies and benefits, lets them know your expectations, and can help prevent problems by ensuring that everyone is treated in a fair and consistent manner.
To convey this information, there are five elements that should be included in your employee handbook.
- Code of Conduct
This section addresses standards of behavior in the workplace, such as dress code, meal and rest breaks, and overall expectations for employee conduct while working. You should include the company policy against harassment and discrimination and what procedures exist to resolve conflict and handle allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, and other negative behaviors.
- Attendance and Overtime Policies
State company policy regarding attendance and how unexcused or excessive absenteeism will be handled, bearing in mind that using a high number of sick days could be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act. Regarding overtime, indicate which employees are eligible for overtime pay, in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, and outline the procedure for approving overtime hours.
- Employee Benefits
In this section, provide a general overview of company benefits, such as health insurance, dental and vision care, and life insurance. Indicate when an employee becomes eligible (e.g. after their probationary period ends) and if these benefits are only available to full-timers or if a prorated package is available to part-timers too. If you offer bonuses or stock options, explain how and why they are awarded.
- Disciplinary Procedures
Have a progressive disciplinary process in place and explain both how it occurs and under what circumstances. For example, how many times will an employee be warned for coming in late? What actions are so severe that they are grounds for immediate termination, such as embezzlement, harassment, or drug use? Emphasize that the same rules apply to all employees. This type of policy can protect you from discrimination claims made by disgruntled employees who may allege that your disciplinary rules are unevenly applied.
To prevent any assumption that the handbook is a legally binding contract, include a disclaimer stating that the document is not a contract and may be changed or modified at any time.
After compiling your handbook, you should have it reviewed by an experienced employment law attorney before distributing it to your employees. At Rosen Law, LLC, we have extensive experience drafting and reviewing employee handbooks and will help you put together a document that reflects your company’s unique culture while protecting you legally. We will also advise you when new laws are passed and revisions or additions to your handbook becomes necessary. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (516) 437-3400.