Employee Handbooks are important to employers, large and small. The handbook can establish guidelines for employees so no confusion exists on the duties and expectations of the employer. Inconsistent application of compensation, termination or benefits can result in litigation against the employer. The employer wants to provide uniform decisions to limit the assumptions and beliefs of employees.
Small businesses are often unaware of the regulations that apply to their situation resulting in mistakes in their treatment of employees. Just because you are small, you are not immune from the complex laws surrounding the employer-employee relationship. The process of drafting the handbook can help the employer understand the obligations and duties it will be faced with. The informality of small businesses can result in modifications and understandings of the employee that could cause litigation to the employer.
If the employer needs to enforce an aspect of the employer’s understanding of the duties of the employees it is easier to have a written guide in the form of a handbook to reference rather than what is in the employer’s head at the time.
Items to include in a handbook:
- Personal use of company property including email, computers, etc.
- Sexual harassment procedures.
- Discipline procedures up to and including termination.
- Vacation time, work hours and personal time with and without pay.
- Overtime policy.
- Procedures for raises, bonuses and changes in job.
- Benefits including health insurance and retirement plans.
- Drug testing, drug and alcohol abuse and any available programs.
- Safety rules applicable to the business.
Fairness and equality of treatment of employees should be your goal.