Need Help Writing an Employee Handbook?
Chicago Business Attorney Offers Tips on How to Write an Employee Handbook
An employee handbook is a collection of all of your business’s policies and procedures. It provides employees with a resource of information so that they understand their duties and responsibilities. However, it also provides protections to employers in case an employee dispute arises. Therefore, in writing an employee handbook, you should take care to ensure that you clearly explain your policies and procedures, since any confusion may hurt you later. You should also avoid making any promises or confining yourself too much with complicated requirements. Finally, you must also be sure that none of your policies or procedures violate state or federal employment law. A well-crafted handbook can help your business run smoothly day-to-day and also protect the company’s future.
If you are creating a handbook for the first time or need legal advice about one you previously wrote, then contact LAD Law Group, P.C. today. We offer a full range of business law services, including assistance with employment contracts and handbooks. We can help you draft a clear, concise handbook for your unique business and circumstances. Additionally, if you later face a dispute with an employee, then a business litigation lawyer from our law firm can use your handbook to defend your company.
What Are the Benefits of an Employee Handbook?
Although not as formal as an employment contract, your handbook is nevertheless crucial to your business operations, especially if you have more than a handful of employees. Writing an employee handbook allows you to:
- Explain your mission, purpose and values. You can use the employee handbook to set down, in writing, your business’s values and goals. This is especially useful when you are hiring, so that your new employees can get an idea of the type of company they are joining. Additionally, having a written mission statement can inspire an atmosphere of cooperation towards a common goal.
- Introduce workplace conditions and atmosphere. Your handbook may contain a section about your business’s workplace culture. This helps new employees feel welcome and helps them adjust to their coworkers and work environment.
- Set down a code of conduct. Many handbooks include a code of conduct explaining what kind of behavior is acceptable in the workplace. For example, you may state that comments and jokes that may qualify as sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
- Avoid confusion. In the future, a dispute or unforeseen circumstance may arise. Comprehensive employee handbooks include protocols for settling these issues, so that you can avoid disagreement or confusion about how to proceed toward a resolution.
- Protect yourself from liability. Employers can use employee handbooks to protect themselves from lawsuits for wrongful termination, harassment and/or discrimination. For example, if you clearly state your no-tolerance sexual harassment policy in your handbook, then you can use this to defend yourself if an employee who violated that policy sues for wrongful termination.
A well-written employment handbook benefits both the employer and employees by providing a framework for doing business.
What Should I Include in an Employee Handbook?
In addition to providing information about your company’s philosophy and culture, an employment handbook should also include specific information about your employee’s rights and duties. This is especially crucial if you do not generally use formal employment agreements. The information you include will depend on the specifics of your business. However, many handbooks explain:
- Working hours and attendance. Include your employees’ working hours, if applicable, as well as your attendance policy. For example, state whether there are penalties for tardiness.
- Employment status and pay rate or salary. Include information about pay days, raises and bonuses. Additionally, if you do not have an employment contract with any of your workers, then you might include a statement about at-will employment.
- Benefits. List retirement plan contributions, health plans, holidays, vacation days and any other benefits you offer.
- Workers compensation. Include information about whether you have workers compensation insurance and the procedure for filing a claim.
- Company policies for drug testing, harassment, etc. Clearly state policies that relate to drug testing and behavior, including smoking.
- Discipline policy and procedures. Outline your company’s disciplinary procedures. For example, it may be your policy to issue a warning after a first offense and take stronger action after a second.
- Employee safety. Explain policies and procedures relating to employee safety. For example, if employees must always wear protective gear in certain areas, then detail those requirements.
- Procedures for filing and resolving complaints. You should have a protocol in place to allow employees to file complaints and to resolve them as amicably as possible.
- Electronic communication standards. Be sure to disclose to your employees whether you will have access to their emails and/or text messages.
Additionally, you should also include a clause reserving your right to amend the handbook at any time, such as if an unforeseen problem arises.
Need to Know How to Write an Employee Handbook? Contact Us Today
If you need assistance writing an employee handbook, then contact LAD Law Group, P.C. today. An employment contracts attorney from our law firm can guide you as you create your own customized handbook. Otherwise, we can review your current handbook and/or help you defend yourself if you are facing an employment lawsuit.
For a free consultation with a Chicago business contracts lawyer, call (312) 252-3085 or contact us online today.