An employee handbook is an integral part of any business. While it is not required by law that a company have an employee handbook, it is incredibly useful in many instances. Employee handbooks help clarify guidelines and expectations that employees will be held to. An employee handbook can help to answer many questions on business policy for a new employee who may not be fully acclimated to the company’s culture and norms.
An employee handbook should be clear and precise in its wording in order to leave as little room for misinterpretation as possible. When an employee reads the handbook, they will then be expected to work and behave accordingly, which means that they should be able to clearly understand what is being asked of them in the workplace. It may also be quite helpful to have employees sign an acknowledgment form after reading the handbook so as to ensure the employee is held to the guidelines and expectations outlined in the handbook. Having a handbook and signed acknowledgment can help an employer decrease risk of litigation. Having an employee sign a proof of acknowledgment essentially holds them responsible for any breach of conduct that may occur. Even if the employee refuses to acknowledge the handbook, you should have them sign a form stating that they refused to acknowledge the handbook. If they refuse to sign the refusal of acknowledgment, you should make a form or note detailing the date and the refusal to sign. Having this information in written, preferably signed, form will help to show the employer took responsibility of properly informing the employee in question.
Having an employee handbook also allows for easy grouping of workplace policies. Employers should review the handbook regularly in order to ensure that they are not breaching the rights of their employees. As laws surrounding employees’ rights change, it is important to update and change your employee handbook according to the specificities. Regardless of what rules an employer would like to put into the employee handbook, they must first review the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and be absolutely certain that they are not violating the rights of their workers. An employer can violate the NLRA by simply retaining an old policy employed before the NLRA. Violations of the NLRA can also be indirect, such as a policy that would inhibit or dissuade an employee from exercising their rights. There are other policies and laws surrounding employment that may differ from state to state so it is very important to review your states specific laws and regulations.
As an employer, it is advisable to make your handbook easily accessible to your employees. Whether that be digitally or physically, having an easily accessible employee handbook will give your employees an opportunity to answer their own questions rather than having to find someone to answer it for them. This will allow your employees to refer back to the handbook at their own convenience, thus eliminating any confusion or translation errors that may occur from employee to employee. It is important to remember to redistribute the handbook when it is revised or updated in any way, so employees do not violate the handbook accidentally.
As an employer, if you have just created a handbook for your employees, then it may be beneficial to schedule a meeting to provide overview or to clear up any initial questions your employees may have. Scheduling a meeting also gives you as an employer a convenient time to distribute the handbook to your employees. It may also be a good idea to speak with your HR director or department when drafting an employee handbook. After the original introduction of the handbook, it is important to keep it readily available. It is a good idea to assign a single employee the task of distributing the handbook and helping any other employee with finding it whether that be physically in-office or digitally.
An employer should regularly review and update their employee handbook to ensure that it is current and abides by employment laws. Laws change frequently and it is important to stay informed on any changes that may need to be made to your handbook. Some companies review their handbook annually, some review theirs bi-annually, some even more frequently. Updates could be necessary to the employee handbook for a multitude of reasons. If there is a change in law, the handbook should be updated to abide by the new laws. If there is a change in the employer’s policies or guidelines, the handbook should be updated so that employees are not abiding by old guidelines and company policies. If the company is expanding into new states, it is quintessential to update the handbook. Failure to do so could result in a breach of employment laws in the new state as employment laws differ from state to state. It goes without saying that a revised handbook overrules all previous versions in ruling, although this information should be shared with your employees as to clear up any possible confusion. When distributing a new employee handbook, you should also take the time to redistribute new acknowledgment forms. These will serve the same purpose as the last forms. These new acknowledgment forms will help prevent litigation in the event of a breach of conduct and will not allow the employee to say they were following the rules of the old handbook.
In closing, an employee handbook is not required by law to operate a business, however it is incredibly useful and helps your employees understand what exactly is expected of them when employed in your organization. Employee handbooks also help establish ground rules and policies for your company. They help establish an employee’s rights when working. They decrease the chance of litigation during a breach of workplace policies and hold the violating employee accountable. Finally, they provide employees a centralized document that can answer most, if not all of their questions they might have about the workplace. An employee handbook will help your company run more efficiently and will have many other benefits.