Employee Handbooks

Employee Handbooks

This Employee Handbook Guide helps you to create a set of workplace guidelines so that employees, staff, and management are aware of company policies and expectations.

Introduction to Employee Handbooks

An employee handbook is a manual given to employees by an employer that details company policies and procedures. An employee handbook is important to your organization’s growth because it ensures that the employer, management, and employees are on the same page. The fundamental purpose of the handbook is to clarify and communicate the employee’s job duties, employee benefits, safety guidelines, and the organization’s internal policies and procedures.

Perhaps most important, the employee handbook allows the employer to consistently enforce the organization’s policies instead of arbitrarily enforcing policies depending on the individual or situation. After all, a pillar of a productive work environment is employee knowledge that they will receive equal, unbiased treatment, regardless of the situation or their position within the organization. Organizational equality fosters a collaborative team environment that breeds creativity and productivity.

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Structure the relationship with a consultant. Set clear rules around important matters such as the scope of the work, compensation, confidentiality, intellectual property ownership and termination of the relationship.

Employee Handbook


Set expectations for your employees and describes what they can expect from your company. An employee handbook is an important communication tool between you and your employees that describes your legal obligations as an employer, and your employees' rights.

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Structure the relationship with an employee. Set clear rules around important matters such as compensation, confidentiality, intellectual property ownership and termination of the relationship.

Disclaimers for the employee handbook

  • Not a contract. This handbook is not an employment contract between the employee and the organization.
  • Introductory. This content of this handbook is updated routinely, but is not all-inclusive. It is intended to be an introduction to organizational policies and procedures.
  • Subject to change. The organization reserves the right to modify, change, suspend, or cancel any or any part of the procedures, policies, and programs contained in the handbook.
  • At-will employment. Employees may be dismissed at the discretion of the company.

Topics: Compensation

  • Benefit programs
  • Overtime pay
  • Pay schedules
  • Performance reviews
  • Salary increases
  • Taxes - federal and state
  • Time keeping records
  • Vacation accrual method

Topics: Complaint Resolution

  • Complaints. How to file with Human Resources or a method for reporting to one's direct manager.
  • Misconduct Any time there is employee misconduct, it must be addressed with a corrective action. This is often in the form of training designed to improve or correct the behavior or performance.

Topics: Computers & Technology

  • Appropriate computer and software usage
  • How to secure electronic information (especially if you collect sensitive customer information, such as credit card numbers)

Topics: Employee Benefits

  • Benefit programs
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Optional benefits - such as health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs
  • Parking for employees

Topics: Equal Employment Opportunity

Business owners must comply with federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment. All employee handbooks should include a section on these laws, as well as prohibited behavior and practices.

Topics: General Employment Information

  • General Employment Policies:
    • employment eligibility
    • employee records
    • employee referrals
    • employee referral bonuses
    • job classifications
    • job postings
    • probationary periods
    • relocation procedure
    • resignation procedure
    • termination procedures
    • transfer procedure
    • union information (if applicable)
  • Mission of the Business
  • Scope of the Business

Topics: Leave Policies

It is important to note that all leave policies must comply with federal, state, and local laws.

  • Bereavement policy
  • Family medical leave
  • Holidays
  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Time off for court cases
  • Vacation policy
  • Voting leave

Topics: Media Relations

  • Outlining a key point of contact for all media inquiries is wise. You can outline how employees should handle calls or email inquiries from reporters, bloggers, etc.
  • Reminder on what the employee has the authority to speak on behalf of the company for.

Topics: Safety & Compliance

  • Compliance with OSHA standards
  • Emergency procedure
  • Policies regarding bad weather and hazardous community conditions
  • Confidentiality standards, For example, locking filing cabinets or computers when not in use.

Topics: Standards of Conduct

  • Cleanliness
  • Decorum
  • Dress Code
  • Ethics
  • Intoxication
  • Office supplies usage
  • Personal mail
  • Personal phone calls
  • Personal visitors
  • Smoking policies
  • Tardiness
  • Work habits

Topics: Work Schedules

  • Absence reporting
  • Attendance
  • Flexible schedules (ex: 7-4 instead of 8-5)
  • Telecommuting policy
  • Work hours
  • Work schedules

Other Employment Documents

In addition to the employee handbook, there are several other documents that you should create for standardized use.

  • Employee Performance Evaluation
  • Non-Compete Agreement (only enforceable outside of California)
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement

Review by a lawyer

An employee handbook can be upwards of 20 pages of content. The most cost efficient way to design the handbook is to compile the handbook yourself, and then later have it reviewed by a licensed lawyer to make sure the handbook complies with federal, state, and local laws.

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