Why should I have an employee handbook?

October 2, 2017

Topics: Employment Policies and Practices

There are many good reasons why a company should have an employee handbook.  Here are five of those reasons:

  1. Communicate terms and benefits of employment. Handbooks answer many of employees’ frequently asked questions, such as about work hours, dress codes, employee benefits and vacation.  By answering those questions in the handbook, employers save time that would be spent answering those questions on an individual basis.
  2. Provide uniform policies and enforcement. Handbooks provide guidance on what is expected from employees, and the consequence of failing to meet job performance requirements or violating company policies. Policies are more likely to be applied and enforced uniformly throughout the organization when they are set out in writing.
  1. Limit liability. Handbooks should include policies barring discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and provide reporting procedures in the event such events occur.  Policies barring sexual harassment and setting procedures to report harassment can provide employers with a legal defense against such claims.
  1. Consider issues before they arise. The process of drafting the handbook provides employers with the opportunity to consider their options in advance and carefully choose the policies and procedures that best suit their workplace environment and goals, rather than responding to problems as they arise.
  1. Provide legally required information. Handbooks can provide information that employers are required by law to provide to their employees, such as information regarding their rights under federal and state employment and leave laws.

Employee handbooks must comply with federal law as well as applicable state and local laws. They should be updated as laws change, and as the company grows and changes.  For these reasons and others, it is advisable to consult with counsel to help prepare employee handbooks and update them as required.