Four Reasons Your Business MUST Have an Employee Handbook

If you’re running a business, an employee handbook is a must-have. Although not a legal requirement, a handbook informs your staff of all workplace rules so there is no room for ambiguity or guesswork. They will know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you in return. Should a disgruntled worker try to take you to court later, a handbook can provide your company with legal protection.

Below is a list of four reasons why you need to put one together if you haven’t already:

Reason No. 1: Communicate Rules and Expectations

Handbooks contain general company policies and practices so that all staff can be aware of your expectations and the consequences for not meeting them. That way, if disciplinary measures become necessary, no employee can claim ignorance of the policy they violated.

Reason No. 2: Help Enforce Company Policies

By stating company policies in print, your employee handbook gives you a solid basis for staff reviews and conduct counseling. When these details are not in writing, disciplined employees can plead ignorance and complain that they are being treated unfairly.

Reason No. 3: Define the Employment Relationship

A good handbook defines the “at-will” employment relationship. Although most states allow employers to terminate non-contract employees for any reason, this doctrine is more enforceable if employees are made to understand that theirs is an “at-will” arrangement. This will not protect companies from claims of discrimination or harassment, but at least you, the employer, can’t be accused of presenting the job as one that’s protected by an employment agreement.

Reason No. 4: Explain Terms and Conditions of Employment

Some workplace policies can be perceived as intrusive, such as background investigations, drug tests, and surprise inspections. When the handbook explains that consent to these activities is a condition of employment, employees are made aware that workplace privacy is limited, and why.

It goes without saying that to be enforceable, employee handbooks must demonstrate compliance with all federal, state, and local employment laws. And you should give each employee a copy, have them sign an acknowledgement form stating that they have received the handbook, and agree to abide by the contents. The extra time it takes to put together a comprehensive and legally compliant document will benefit your company and employees in the long run.

Please contact us today if you’d like some help getting started with your employee handbook!

Integrated General Counsel