All businesses, however small, should have an employee handbook in place. A handbook can be utilized to articulate company policy, culture, and manage expectations, as well as help new hires understand how the company works, what it values, and serve as a reference when they have questions regarding employment. Additionally, an employee handbook sets up standards for behavior and consequences for improper conduct. When the rules are clearly articulated, an employer can point to the handbook when an employee’s behavior is unacceptable. This is how employers can ensure fairness and all employees can be subjected to the same rules. Without a handbook, an employer may face liability issues based on federal and state laws.
The process of writing a handbook requires an organization to think about what it values and the type of culture it wants to portray in the workplace. A handbook also allows a business to organize its policies and procedures in one place that can be used as a guide by everyone in the business to operate. Some practices and elements of employee handbooks are common to most businesses, however each employee handbook may have unique elements and style. The following elements should be included in every employee handbook:
Introduction: This section of the handbook should provide background information, a brief history, and the purpose of the handbook. This section can also provide a mission statement or a company vision for the future. It is advisable to state that the handbook is subject to revisions.
Notice of Anti-Discrimination Laws: Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other classifications. The handbook should notify employees of their rights and means for reporting violations, as well as outline the procedure by which employees can have their rights addressed.
Intellectual Property Rights: Businesses should provide a section regarding their intellectual property rights to trademarks, trade secrets, patents, and other company know-how. Employees should be aware that rights to intellectual property created belong to the company and not the individual employee.
Confidentiality: The handbook should outline a company’s policy regarding confidentiality of company trade secrets and other sensitive information. Additionally, confidentiality of employee information should be addressed. There should be a section regarding employee privacy to sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and payroll. Employees should also be aware of an obligation for nondisclosure of important and sensitive company information.
Benefits: The handbook should provide information on sick leave, paid leave, vacation time, and company-paid holidays. It should also provide information on other benefits provided, such as eligibility for participation in a 401k and other retirement plans, as well as health, dental, and life insurance policies.
Payroll and Attendance: The handbook should clearly outline pay periods and overtime pay for those who are classified and eligible to receive it. It should also clearly state the attendance policy, including policies regarding working from home. This section should define how completed work should be reported and how notifications regarding leave of absence can be made.
Safety Protocols: The handbook should outline Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and provide procedures for reporting work injuries.
Code of Conduct: This section should articulate expectations regarding dress code, appropriate behavior toward coworkers, and interactions with customers and clients.
An experienced employment attorney can craft an employee handbook this is aligned with a company’s overall mission and also complies with federal and state laws.
The legal team atMacMain, Connell & Leinhauser provides a range of human resource counseling, including a creation and review of employer policies and handbooks to minimize legal exposure. For an initial consultation, please call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Chester County, and New Jersey.