An employee handbook (or employee manual) details guidelines, expectations and procedures of a business or company to its employees.
Employee handbooks are given to employees on one of the first days of his/her job, in order to acquaint them with their new company and its policies.
While it often varies from business to business, specific areas that an employee handbook may address include:
- A welcome statement, which may also briefly describe the company's history, reasons for its success and how the employee can contribute to future successes. It may also include a mission statement, or a statement about a business' goals and objectives.
- Orientation procedures. This usually involves providing a human resources manager or other designated employee completed
income tax withholding forms, providing proof of identity and eligibility for employment (in accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986), proof of a completed drug test (by a designated medical center) and other required forms.
- Definitions of full- and part-time employment, and benefits each classification receives. In addition, this area also describes timekeeping procedures (such as defining a "work week"). This area may also include information about daily breaks (for lunch and rest).
- Information about employee pay and benefits (such as vacation and insurance). Usually, new employees are awarded some benefits, plus additional rewards (such as enrollment in a 401K
retirement account program, additional vacation and pay raises) after having worked for a company for a certain period of time. These are spelled out in this section.
- Expectations about conduct and discipline policies. These sections include conduct policies for such areas as sexual harassment, alcohol and drug use, and attendance; plus, grounds for dismissal (i.e., getting fired) and due process. This area may also include information about filing grievances with supervisors and/or co-workers, and communicating work-related issues with supervisors and/or company
- Guidelines for employee performance reviews (such as how and when they are conducted).
- Policies for promotion or demotion to a certain position.
- Rules concerning mail; use of the telephone, company equipment, Internet and e-mail; and employee use of motor vehicles for job assignments.
- Procedures on handling on-the-job accidents, such as those that result in injury.
- How an employee may voluntarily terminate his job (through retirement or resignation), and exit interviews.
- A requirement that employees keep certain business information confidential. This area usually includes information about releasing employee records and information, as well as who may retrieve and inspect the information.
"I agree" form
New employees are usually required to sign a form stating they have read and understand the information, and accept the terms of the employee handbook. Failure to do so within a timely manner may result in termination.
Revisions to an employee handbook vary from company to company. At many larger companies, a revised handbook comes out annually.
Why are written policies important?
Sound employment policies provide the framework within which an organization governs its employee relations. A policies and procedures manual guides both managers and employees as to what is expected and can prevent misunderstandings about employer policy. In addition, supervisors and managers are more likely to consistently apply policies if they are clearly communicated in writing. An Employee Handbook is probably your first line of establishing an affirmative defense strategy.
It is true that written policies, like any record, can be used against an organization in a lawsuit. Poorly drafted policies often become the main evidence presented when employees allege that the policies were in fact a contract that the employer violated. However, policies that are carefully written so as not to be contracts actually should protect against these claims and not be a problem. In addition, carefully written policies can be used to illustrate your commitment to a positive work environment and to nondiscriminatory employment practices. (From HRPolicyanswers.com)
Need for Employee Handbook
Federal and state laws and the growing number of cases of employee related litigation against management strongly suggests that a written statement of company policy is a business necessity for firms of any size.
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