Is there ever a time that you should consider using a generic employee handbook? I guess if you like the idea of adopting someone else's policies then it is a great idea!
The down side to this is that you better be willing to follow those policies equally across your business. In other words don't pick and choose which ones you are going to follow and ignore the rest. Or worse yet you selectively enforce them. This will end you up in an employment law suit faster than you can put up your "Out of Business" sign!
Yes, a generic employee handbook comes in very handy to build or produce your personalize one that will better fit the needs of your business. Generic handbooks will come worded in a way that allows you to easily adapt it to your desires. As an example, if you're putting together your progressive discipline program using a generic policy manual you can just change the number of written warnings required before termination to match your requirements. To give you an example of what might be a good progressive discipline program, consider this if it happens in a twelve month rolling calendar period;
1st Offense = verbal warning
2nd Offense = written counseling
3rd Offense = written warning
4th Offense = written warning
5th Offense = Termination
Keep in mind that from a generic employee handbook point of view you could add to this or take away from it. The important thing is that you treat everyone the exact same, so that you do not discriminate against anyone. Keep in mind almost anyone can fall into the category of being discriminated against. As an example if someone is simply over forty they can claim age discrimination if you treat them differently than someone under forty!
One more thing that you will want to adjust on a generic employee handbook would be offenses that could result in immediate termination, versus following progressive discipline. The following list may be some things you may want to consider;
Falsifying Official Documents
Walking off the Job
Three Consecutive Days of No Call No Show
Refusing to Carry Out a Reasonable Request by Management
Gross Safety Violation
Misuse of Company Property for Personal Gain
Sleeping on the Job
As you can see this list could be a lot longer or shorter! Point is that you need to decide how it will best fit your specific company's need. Some business owners may want to include Gossip in the above list. I know I am a strong believer in having a "No Gossip" policy. Gossip destroys a workplace faster than you can imagine. The wording always becomes the problem with almost all policies; therefore, it may be wise to utilize an employee handbook software program to assist you in the process. There are many on the market! Some of them are very expensive and others are almost nothing.
Other policies that might be included in a generic employee handbook are; absenteeism, tardy, vacation, sexual harassment, discrimination, EEO, smoking, sick time, holidays, health benefits, retirement, full time versus part time, overtime pay, etc. This is just a very short list of some of the employee handbook policies that you may consider putting into your handbook.
An employee handbook is going to come in so handy for you. It will also be extremely important to Clarify your company's stance of certain issues if there is ever a legal question about how you handle something. I have used our employee handbook numerous times during an unemployment hearing to save us from having to pay unemployment. That in itself will save you thousands of dollars. Take advantage of this great tool!
Good Luck and May God Bless You!