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7 Must-Haves for your Company Employee Handbook- for their Benefit and Yours

All employers, no matter the company size, should have an employee handbook to communicate essential policies of the company to employees. A company employee handbook also serves as a legal defense against claims brought by an employee against the company or its managers. Employee handbooks also provide guidance to both supervisors and their employees. A well-written handbook will boost employee productivity and a company’s bottom line.

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These guides are crucial to the steady growth of an organization. Here are 7 must-have components every company employee handbook should include:

1. Consistency: Promulgating an employee handbook helps employers in the even-handed application of its policies. Many times, an individual files a claim against a company because he or she asserts that a work policy was applied unfairly. The individual may claim that illegal discrimination or retaliation was in play. These types of claims can be avoided or defended against where written policies are set.

2. Expectations: The employee handbook should include disciplinary policies, conduct and performance measures expected by the company. Here, the company employee handbook establishes what actions may lead to discipline or other consequences. These guidelines will make it easier for employees to understand what is expected and will assist supervisors in enforcing rules and defined procedures.

A well-written handbook will boost employee productivity and a company’s bottom line.

3. Clocking in and out Procedures: The company employee handbook gives an employer the opportunity to lay out rules for clocking in and out for non-exempt employees. This may protect against unpaid overtime claims by allowing employers to remind employees that falsifying time worked will lead to discipline and that unauthorized overtime and working outside of regular hours without authorization is not permissible.

4. Communication: The handbook should outline an “Open Door” policy so that employees are comfortable talking to management about any workplace concerns. The employee handbook should guide employees on expectations and facilitate open lines of communication with employees to help with dispute resolution, relationship issues between employees and between employees and management.

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5. Acknowledgment: An employee handbook allows for documentation to record that employees have read and understood the company’s policies and procedures. Handbooks should include an acknowledgment form so that the employer has a signed receipt from the employee that he or she understands the policies and procedures of the company. Starting from that place of acknowledgement gives employers the ability to have conversations where all parties are on the same page.

6. Anti-Harassment Policy: The handbook should include steps for employees to report issues regarding harassment, retaliation or discrimination so that the employer can rapidly address any concerns. The inclusion and dissemination of such policies provide a defense to employers when an employee claims illegal treatment on behalf of another employee or a superior.

7. Paid Time Off Policy: With an employee handbook, an employer can explain protocol for taking paid time off and how much paid time off is available. This gives employers an opportunity to address policies where unpaid leave may apply. It also outlines  information on vacations and time off for illness or other personal reasons without having to discuss private issues with managers.

A company employee handbook is a must-have to a well-run business. It protects a company’s interests, while also governing employee expectations and procedures to create an atmosphere of knowledge and understanding before an adverse incident occurs. Creating an employee handbook should be a primary objective and be part of the overall business plan. For those employers already using employee handbooks, review them periodically for compliance with changes in the law or when the number of employees changes, as different employment-related laws may apply depending on the size of the company.

About Zascha Blanco Abbott

Zascha Blanco Abbott is with Sioli Alexander Pino, in Miami, Florida. Zascha focuses her practice on the representation of public and private employers in labor and employment matters. Her experience includes defending employers in a variety of employment-related lawsuits, such as claims of discrimination, hostile work environment, breach of contract claims, constitutional violations, and retaliation…

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