An employee handbook is an important communication tool between you and your employees. A well-written handbook sets forth your expectations for your employees, and describes what they can expect from your company. It also should describe your legal obligations as an employer, and your employees' rights.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Conflict of Interest Statements
Although NDAs are not legally required, having employees sign NDAs and conflict of interest statements helps to protect your trade secrets and company proprietary information.
As a business owner, you must comply with the equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employee handbooks should include a section about these laws, and how your employees are expected to comply.
Clearly explain to your employees that your company will make required deductions for federal and state taxes, as well as voluntary deductions for the company’s benefits programs. In addition, you should outline your legal obligations regarding overtime pay, pay schedules, performance reviews, salary increases, time keeping records, breaks and bonuses.
Describe your company’s policies regarding work hours and schedules, attendance, punctuality, and reporting absences, along with guidelines for flexible schedules and telecommuting.
Standards of Conduct
Document your expectations of how you want your employees to conduct themselves including dress code and ethics. In addition, remind your employees of their legal obligations, especially if your business is engaged in an activity that is regulated by the government.
General Employment Information
Your employee handbook should include an overview of your business and general employment policies covering employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, employee records, job postings, probationary periods, termination and resignation procedures, transfers and relocation, and union information, if applicable.
Safety and Security
Describe your company’s policy for creating a safe and secure workplace, including compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s laws that require employees to report all accidents, injuries, potential safety hazards, safety suggestions and health and safety related issues to management.
Safety policies should also include your company’s policy regarding bad weather and hazardous community conditions.
Add your commitment to creating a secure work environment, and your employee’s responsibility for abiding by all physical and information security policies, such as locking file cabinets or computers when not in use.
Computers and Technology
Outline policies for appropriate computer and software use, and steps employees should take to secure electronic information, especially any personal identifiable information you collect from your customers.
It’s a good business practice to have a single point of contact for all media inquiries. Your employee handbook should include a section that explains how your employees should handle calls from reporters or other media inquiries.
Make sure to detail any benefit programs and eligibility requirements, including all benefits that may be required by law.
This section should also outline your plans for optional benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans and wellness programs.
Your company’s leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those you are required to provide by law. Family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. In addition, you should explain your policies for vacation, holiday, bereavement, and sick leave.