Elements of an Employee Handbook

What are the elements of an employee handbook? Good question!

An employee handbook serves a number of purposes; however, it primarily acts as a tool to make sure that any employment policies or rules are treated equally company wide. This doesn't matter whether you're employing only a handful or employees or a super large corporation. The purpose is the same. Avoid finding yourself in a position of where one person is treated better or worse than someone else.

You should have a policy on attendance!

Now understand whether you have the best employee handbook in the world which contains all the essential elements of an employee handbook, it will not stop a supervisor/manager from acting independently by wrongly imposing a policy/rule. However, your employee handbook hopefully will show that you have a policy in place to handle the issue and will mitigate an employee law suit. Much of this will depend on whether you trained your supervisor/manager correctly on the proper way to handle the issue.

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So let's get down to the elements of an employee handbook.

Certainly you should have a policy on attendance! As a general rule this will play a big part of any business, big or small. People will always push the envelope on tardiness, unscheduled absences, leaving early, etc. By stating your attendance policy in the form of an employee handbook you have clarified what is tolerable and what is not. As an example you may allow for someone to be tardy three times in a twelve month rolling calendar period. When they are tardy the fourth time you may issue an employee counseling. Of course this is only an example. You may decide that being tardy even once is not allowed. Or you may decide that they can be tardy as often as they like. Your choice, and as long as you are treating everyone the same it will not be an issue.

You need a progressive discipline program!

Another one of the important elements of an employee handbook would be a progressive discipline program. This one will help you out a great deal if you are ever faced with a wrongful discharge law suit. A progressive discipline program is a policy that will map out how you handle discipline from the start all the way up to and including possible termination. This is always a tough pill to swallow since many business owners fill they can hire and fire at their discretion. True provided again, everyone is treated equally.

Are you sensing a theme about everyone being treated equally! Doing so will solve more problems than you can imagine.

Animated person holding your fired sign

Certainly another one of the important elements of an employee handbook is an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. This should be fairly simple since this can be obtained from the Federal Laws pertaining to this subject. Some will depend on the business you're in and if you have any government contracts or not. Check closely with your state and federal laws governing this. As an example, if you are a religious organization you can discriminate against those that are not of the same religious beliefs for certain positions within your church. The Pastor or instance would need to be of the same religion!

Another one of the elements of an employee handbook would be a sexual harassment policy. In some states based on how many employees you have (California and AB182S) require so much more than other states. However, it is still extremely important that you cover this well so that you do not put your company at risk if someone is sexually harassed.

Have you given thought to Gossip?

Picture of a person completely a discipline form Have you given thought to Gossip? Gossip can destroy an organization from the inside out! It will cause more back biting, internal feuds, unnecessary turnover, poor productivity, accidents, fist fights, etc. My strong recommendation would be to include this as elements of an employee handbook for your business. Exactly what and how you want to break it down is your choice. But for sure you will want to have some type of language that addresses it! There are some great employee handbook software programs offered that can be of great assistance in this as well as all the other policies. My feeling has always been, "Why reinvent the wheel!”

Another one of the elements of an employee handbook would be to define what is a temporary employee, part time employee, intermittent employee, or full time employee. Much of this can come for your state laws. Many states say that anyone over thirty hours is a full time employee. Keep in mind if you are offering benefits to full time employees and not part time, this could be a very costly piece of your employee handbook. The key is to make sure that you do not violate the law. Again I strongly recommend an employee handbook software that is written by employee attorneys, and will meet state laws.

Hopefully this is enough information on the elements of an employee handbook to get you started. I can't state enough how important an employee handbook is to your business. I have made use of it more than any other document to save us money when it applies to employee issues in a legal setting. Here are some examples of saving money, such as unemployment claims, paying out vacation dollars upon termination, paying sick pay, offering health benefits to only those qualified, etc. Make use of it to save your business money is the point I am trying to make.

Good Luck and May God Bless You!

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