A Good Employee Handbook Is Worth It’s Weight In Gold

Employers must adopt and introduce policies, which are reasonable and fair in order to have a good employee handbook. Employers cannot deprive their employees form their statutory rights. In case of conflicts between a company’s employee handbook and statutory rights, the statute will prevail over the employee handbook.

Most employees know that one of the first things you are given when you are hired by a company is an employee handbook. The handbook is given to you because it outlines the company’s personnel policies. A prudent company either large or small will have a good employee handbook. Businesses that we would consider to be smaller in size should still have an company handbook. While I used to recommend a company handbook wjould be implemented once the company has ten or more employees these days if you have even one employee you should have an employee handbook. we say this because of the newCalifornia Paid Sick Leave Law that went into effect July1st 2015.

Additionally, the employee handbook discloses the different benefits that the company offers to its employees, along with various policies and procedures that are needed to help the company run smoothly. An employee handbook is often called a company manual. And, it is the best communication tool between the employer and employee. The company may at its discretion amend, delete, suspend any company benefit, but it cannot deprive the employee from their constitutional rights.

Any amendment to the employee handbook must be preceded by company notification preferably in writing. A good example that would serve to illustrate the purpose and reason of an employee handbook would be a prenuptial agreement; a good employee handbooks; helps you to set and establish expectations for your employees, and also outlines what your employees can expect from the company. Make sure your employee handbook is clearly detailed. Clarity is the best policy to us when writing your company’s employee handbook. Valid reasons for terminations should be clearly spelled out in your employee handbook. Use your handbook as a benchmark for behavior and be sure to spell out clearly what behavior your company considers to be gross misconduct as well as policies that will establish the actions consider being police offenses.

To be sure that you have included all polices that you want in your handbook; it is wise to use a pre-drafted template which can be customized. Be careful that you do not use language that will destroy your at-will status by implying an employment contract that promises anything other than the employment term is At-Will. Another way to destroy your At-Will status is by terminating an employee without having valid reasons for the termination. These reasons should be clearly spelled out in your company’s policy manual.

Protect your organization. Use your handbook to set a benchmark for behavior and specifically outline what constitutes gross misconduct and policy violation. If you have developed a new employee handbook, it is vital to communicate and distribute the new handbook to all your employees, not just new hires. They should also sign a receipt of acknowledgement upon receiving the new employee handbook’ policies and procedures.

A handbook will serve as a compass to managers and employees alike, as long as you have clearly stated your company’s expectations from them. A good employee handbook also helps in avoiding misunderstandings. Not only that but written policies and procedures are always taken much more seriously than verbal policy. Your company handbook could be presented in court as evidence so the employer should take care in drafting company policies carefully.

What are some of the policies that a good employee handbook would address?

  1. Every employer should make sure that their “At-Will” Status is somewhere between pages 1-3. Not every policy has to go on a certain page but there are a couple the do. Your “At-Will” and your Sexual Harassment Policy need to be on specific pages.  The Sexual Harassment Policy should be somewhere between pages 3-5
  2. Today every employer should make sure that they have established the new California Paid Sick Leave Policy in their employee handbook.  Employers should also establish which method they are going to use when giving out the Paid Sick Leave.  We say this because there were several notifications that employers were to provide to their employees concerning the Paid Sick Leave Law and most employers did not meet those deadlines.  So if you have addressed all of this in your Good Employee Handbook you will be in compliance with the notification aspect of the law.
  3. A Good Employee Handbook will not have verbiage such as “Up to and Including”  this verbiage destroys your “At-Will” Status, because it is an implied contract that promises steps even though the steps are  not mentioned.
  4. A good Social Media Policy these days is a must.
  5. A good Internet Policy that prevent any form of Sexual Harassment in the form of emails or pictures, or jokes.
  6. It is always a good policy to have your Good Employee Handbook Reviewed annually by a good Labor Law Attorney.

It is wise to make sure that your Employee Handbook is written in a way that would be considered engaging.  Don’t fill your Employee Handbook with so much legaleze that your employees have a difficult time reading it or comprehending it.

Once you have passed out the Employee Handbook make sure that the employees have read it and that they have signed an acknowledgement receipt form.  One last thing to do put policies in your company Employee Handbook that you cannot enforce equally among all of your employees.

For example let’s say that you have a policy in your company Employee Handbook that says you do not give out pay advances, but Charlie has been with the company since the early days, and if Charlie needs a pay advance he is going to get one.  In a case like that you are better off to not even include that policy in your Employee Handbook since you will not be able to enforce that policy uniformly.

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