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Every business has different processes, applicable standards and regulations, and values; therefore a proper employee handbook for your staff should not be a downloaded, unedited sample you find in the wilds of the internet.

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Why does an employee handbook benefit your company? For one, it provides a concise, easy to locate manual of all rules and regulations, from break time policies to benefit information and workflow processes. Putting your business' processes in writing also helps ensure you stay in compliance - legal counsel can tell you if a policy is sound, prior to writing, then review it, and even advise what vital information you've missed. In addition, it helps you avoid potential lawsuits.

Be aware of federal guidelines and your state's guidelines as well. Texas, for example, is an employment-at-will state, wherein an employer can terminate staff for any reason unless a document, such as a contract, states otherwise.

A handbook, however, is not considered a contract - Zimmerman v HE Butt Grocery Company found in 1991 that an employee did not have an implied contract even though the handbook covered disciplinary actions, because the handbook didn't state that the employer could only terminate for reasons of cause.

While each company's manual should be unique, based on philosophy, size, needs, and other factors, they are never complete, even after being reviewed and approved by an attorney familiar with labor laws. Keep abreast of changes in employment law, as outdated policies are as bad as no policies. Consider keeping a copy of the manual uploaded on a cloud drive and available to employees at all times, with frequent updates made so that it stays current. This ensures everyone employed is responsible for having the most up-to-date information, and it's easily available to them.

At a minimum, include your business's policies and expectations of staff, as well as what staff should expect from the business. Legal obligations of the employer and rights of the employee should be available. Include statements on:

-Anti-harassment policies
-Equal employment opportunity policies
-Code of conduct
-General employment information
-Safety policies
-Pay policies and benefits
-Sick leave, paid vacation, and family and medical leave policies
-Assessment and review processes
-Discipline policies
-Complaint processes

Also, consider a welcome letter, the company's mission and vision statements, company culture, annual closure calendar and operation hours, attendance and dress policies, and other relevant information.

The employee handbook is a formal document but the information contained within it will be a mixture of formal processes that mirror other companies and unique information that is specific only to your organization. It is necessary to start new employees with the correct procedures and ensure that long-serving employees stay up to date, and it will keep the company transparent and in legal compliance.

Category: Labor and Employment Law

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