All employers have some set employment policies and procedures that are meant to be followed by their employees. Some employers have such policies written while some fear that having the policies in writing might increase their exposure to employment claims. Some Federal laws and State laws have a mandate requirement of putting some employment policies in writing. However there is no law requirement that the employer should provide the employees with an employee handbook. An employee handbook is an important communication document between an employer and employee. It is also known as an employee manual.
There are many legal and non-legal reasons for the employer to publish an employee handbook for his/her employees. Irrespective of the size of the organization, a properly drafted and well-reviewed employee handbook can be a good guide to good employment practices. Such handbooks contribute towards good employee employer relationship and help in defending in employment related claims like harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination.
- A handbook is one medium to distribute the company policies and procedures to all the employees equally.
- Compliance posters also play a vital role in helping the employees understand the important rules and regulations of the workplace. You can display thee posters in shared kitchen or lobby spaces where employees can easily know about any new federal labor laws etc..
Introduction to mission and history
With respect to the non-legal perspective, an employee handbook gives a positive introduction of the organization to a new employee. The mission statement, a welcome note and the history of the organization will make the employees feel the ownership. Adding information about the company culture offers a thorough perspective to the new employees. The handbook can also be used to promote integrity of the organization and can enhance the employee loyalty and productivity.
Legal reasons – dispute management
There are many legal reasons for implementing an employee handbook. The contents of the handbook could be certain policies like employee benefits – sick leave, holiday and vacation, information on insurance, disciplinary policies and performance requirements. The handbook should also include an “at will” disclaimer. The employment relationship in this country has been set on the principle of employment at will which means that the employee’s relationship with the employer shall be at will and not contractual. This implies that an employer can terminate his relationship with the employee at any point of time for any legal reason. Such disclaimer might serve the purpose of a written contract in case of a dispute between the employer and employee.
Accusations of discrimination, sexual and racial harassment are very common these days. Therefore, the handbook should describe the situations and actions that can be considered as harassment and also list the disciplinary procedures for such illegal behavior. A detailed complaint process and the people to be approached in case one faces a difficult situation are to be mentioned in the handbook. The severity of disputes can be reduced if open communication is encouraged. A policy to approach the human retargets for a friendly discussion can also be incorporated in the handbook.
Important! All the efforts of the organization shall be in vain if the employee claims, in case a dispute arises, that he/she never received such handbook. Therefore it is important that the employer obtain a receipt of acknowledgement from every employee. The acknowledgement should state that the employee has understood all the policies and shall abide by them during his/her tenure.
- Compliance posters should be posted mandatorily in the workplace to ensure that all employees are aware of the important compliance rules and regulations.
- Employee handbook needs to be reviewed and updated as and when the employment laws change on a regular basis.