- What Type of Document is an Employee Handbook?
- Are Employee Handbooks Copyrighted?
- How To Introduce A New Employee Handbook?
- What Topics Should Be Covered In An Employee Handbook?
- How Do You Write An Amendment For An Employee Handbook?
- How Do You Structure An Employee Handbook?
- What Should Be Avoided In An Employee Handbook?
- What Are The Different Categories of Employee Handbooks?
- How Often Should Employee Handbooks Be Updated? / How Do I Change My Employee Handbook
Every company’s employee handbook is the most crucial document. It highlights your company’s culture and identifies your company’s core policies and processes. This blog article will explore various fundamental aspects of an employee handbook like creating a great employee handbook that your employees will be eager to read to do’s and don’ts while you are writing one which is answered systematically under commonly raised questions about employee handbooks.
What Type of Document is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook (also known as an employee manual or staff handbook) is a document that outlines a company’s regulations, policies, and employee expectations. It also specifies what employees may anticipate from the employer. New employees are often given a copy of the employee handbook along with a form to sign indicating that they have read it and agree to the rules.
Why do you need an employee handbook?
It is critical that all of your employees comprehend your company’s policies and standards. Creating an employee handbook demonstrates to employees that there are similar standards in place for all employees – the same rules and norms apply to all employees, and all employees are treated equally.
Employee handbooks, by clearly outlining corporate standards, may assist maintain a good, productive, and safe work environment free of inappropriate or harmful behavior. Consequently, the handbook can shield the firm against sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and discrimination litigation, as well as assist you in defending against a lawsuit.
Are Employee Handbooks Copyrighted?
Employee handbooks are copyright protected. In fact, there are businesses that specialize in creating and marketing employee handbook types. As a result, copying and using major chunks of another company’s employee handbook is extremely dangerous. That is incorrect. The text is not generic. The terminology used varies greatly between companies.
In order to avoid issues related to copyright infringement, you should hire a lawyer to draft your employee handbook. The personal experience of various company owners with clients reveals that it may be devastating when a corporation saves money by not hiring a lawyer to prepare its handbook. Each handbook and each provision in it must be adapted precisely to your firm. This task cannot be accomplished alone by inexperienced or even professional HR personnel. But if company owners, HR professionals, legal experts,.etc sit together and work on creating an employee handbook like a small project, it is possible to create a unique and flawless copy.
How To Introduce A New Employee Handbook?
Employee handbooks’ major purpose is to explain safety protocols, examine pertinent local, state, and federal requirements, and address rules related to your practice. Publishing and sharing this information with team members ensure that they understand your expectations. It also improves management’s ability to implement policies fairly and consistently, which is essential for fostering high levels of employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
But alongside, it is also important that the company makes changes in the existing employee handbook so that its contents are relevant to the ongoing requirements and circumstances. Following are the steps you should follow to introduce a new employee handbook.
Work Together with Your Team
Some policies and procedures are required in employee handbooks. An explanation of your practice’s position on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, as well as information on privacy rules and procedures, are examples. It’s also a good idea to include information on salary, perks, and paid time off, as well as how team members may request extended time off when needed.
After you’ve selected the fundamentals, engage your team to help you build the other parts. What are their priorities? Where might additional clarification be beneficial? Participating in the construction of the handbook fosters a sense of ownership, which aids in socializing the handbook and enhancing overall employee engagement.
Changes Should Be Communicated
Create a rollout strategy that covers everyone in your clinic after your employee handbook is finished. Make a point of mentioning any important changes to current rules and procedures, such as a new attendance policy, and give open debate on how these changes will affect everyday work activities.
Each employee should leave with a thorough awareness of the content in the handbook, as well as their responsibility in keeping the workplace safe and comfortable for themselves and their coworkers.
The majority of firms are abandoning paper-based rules and processes. Digital publishing lowers paper waste and facilitates corrections and updates. Send electronic copies with a timestamp and electronic signature to ensure receipt if you choose digital publication.
Include a signature form that indicates recipients studied the contents in the handbook if you prefer traditional paper-based handbooks. Set a date for returning the forms, whether digital or paper-based, so you may follow up with team members who missed or forgot to examine the handbook.
Assure those team members are aware of where to get the most recent edition of the employee handbook. Many dentistry, optometry, and medical offices make the handbook easily accessible via intranets, file-sharing platforms, and/or employee portals.
Revise, fix, and adapt
The one constant in the healthcare sector, as you are aware, is change. Existing rules are retired or repealed, and new ones are enacted in their place. Policies that were successful while your team was small are no longer applicable when your company grows and expands. Issues and events that were previously unrelated to your daily operations now take centre stage.
Publishing and disseminating your employee handbook is not a one-time affair. Consider the handbook to be a live document that should be examined and amended on a regular basis to reflect changes in the external and internal environments. When changes are made, make sure you have a robust communication plan in place to keep your employees informed.
Employee handbooks are more than just policy and procedure manuals. They provide a chance to unite your team by explaining your obligations to them as well as their responsibilities to you, your patients, and each other. Handbooks help to avoid misunderstandings that might lead to conflict, and they guarantee that each team member is treated fairly and consistently. This helps your practice by lowering risk and enhancing employee engagement overall.
What Topics Should Be Covered In An Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook should outline your company’s policies, as well as your expectations of your employees and what they may expect from you. It should clarify your legal obligations as an employer as well as your workers’ rights.
The first list, below, includes items that, in most situations, must be documented in writing for legal reasons and, as such, should be included in the employee handbook so that everything is simply documented in one place. The second list contains elements you may or may not include.
- Equal employment opportunity (antidiscrimination)
- At-will nature of employment
- Code of conduct
- General employment information
- Safety and Security
- Pay policies such as information on paydays, timekeeping, overtime eligibility, meal and rest periods, etc.
- Sick leave policy
- Paid vacation policy
- Family and medical leave — If a company has 50 or more employees, it is usually required to have an FMLA policy.
- The assessment process for promotions and raises
- Process for filing a complaint
- Disclaimers — The employee handbook provides policies and guidelines but does not constitute a promise or contract of continued employment. Mention that the policies in the employee handbook are subject to modification at the discretion of the employer.
What else should your employee handbook include?
- CEO or founder welcome letter
- The mission statement for the company
- Ideal corporate culture
- Annual office shutdowns
- Expectations for behavior, including attendance and, if applicable, dress code
- Standard operation hours – add any policies about personnel working outside of these hours.
- Examine the procedure and how to obtain a promotion/pay hike.
- Progressive discipline or policy when behavior doesn’t meet expectations
- A document to sign indicating that they have read the employee handbook and agree to the requirements.
How Do You Write An Amendment For An Employee Handbook?
Amendment of your company’s employee handbook is necessary from time to time but at the same time it’s equally necessary to confirm certain aspects before you initiate the process of amendment.
Define the changes needed.
The changes are intended to address an issue. This entails reducing the problem down to its most basic components. If, for example, a desired modification to the employee handbook is based on a series of complaints about overpowering aftershave or fragrance, the necessity for a change may not be as obvious as you believe.
Measure the extent of the problem
That is the rationale for the adjustment by consulting specialists. Check with persons who really work in the region in this case. What appears to be an environmental issue might be a personal issue between two employees. If required, consult the building engineer about the space and any ventilation issues, or the corporate doctor about scents that may exacerbate other people’s allergies.
Examine the alternatives and the information offered by your go-to professionals. In the event of strong cologne or aftershave, inquire about alternatives.
Developing the Draft and Publishing the Final Changes
- Create a rough outline of the update. In our case, it may be as easy as “Do not wear strong scents to work.”
2. Submit the proposed modification to the departments involved in the initiative for feedback. When a change request is specified, do not make changes that go beyond the scope of the change request.
3. After you’ve simplified the revisions to the text, contact the corporate attorney or legal department for feedback on the terminology alone; creating the handbook is your obligation, not theirs. The well-written handbook is a barrier that guards the firm against spurious charges of misconduct. Changes that incorporate potentially misunderstood language are fundamentally opposed to a well-written employee handbook.
4. Resubmit the final update with explanatory remarks to the departments that contributed and commented. If wide changes were sought but not executed, a well-written memo explaining why the changes are restricted is likely to alleviate a department head’s dissatisfaction. The memo also aids in rapidly bringing the individual on board with the new policy.
5. Notify all supervisors of the change as soon as feasible. Publish the language of the revisions in the employee bulletin, if one exists, and incorporate the changes in the next version of the employee handbook.
6. Through the various supervisors, monitor the execution of the new policies in the employee handbook.
How Do You Structure An Employee Handbook?
Employers should be careful not to impose overly broad confidentiality provisions that preclude employees from discussing salaries and other job terms and circumstances. It would be illegal, for example, to declare “do not share outside of work customer or employee information, including phone numbers and addresses.” A handbook may instead declare, “Misuse or unauthorized disclosure of secret information not normally available to individuals or businesses outside [Company Name] is the reason for disciplinary action, including termination.”
The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) social media policy strikes a careful balance between safeguarding an organization’s reputation and respecting employees’ rights to engage in collective activity. Similarly, the NLRB has addressed social media rules, balancing the need to preserve employers’ reputations with employees’ right to free expression.
Keeping all these things in mind, a systematic procedure explained below can be followed to effectively structure your company’s employee handbook.
STEP 1: MAKE A LIST OF WHAT SHOULD BE IN THE EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK.
The employer’s objective statement, equal employment opportunity statement, contractual disclaimer and at-will employment statement (where permissible), employee handbook purpose, and background information about the company should all be included in the employee handbook. The employer has the ability to introduce new subjects. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), COBRA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) anti-discrimination regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act are all key elements to consider (FLSA).
STEP 2: FORMULATE SUMMARY VERSIONS OF EACH POLICY AND PROCEDURE
The employee handbook should include a paragraph summarising each policy and practice. The statements should be easy to comprehend and clear of legal language; in other words, they should be crafted with employees in mind.
STEP 3: INSTALL EACH SUMMARY STATEMENT IN THE APPROPRIATE SECTIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OUTLINE.
Following the completion of the layout for the employee handbook by HR, the next stage is to write the organization’s views, rules, or policies beneath each of the overview components.
STEP 4: READ THE WHOLE HANDBOOK
The review process ensures that the information is factual and intelligible. The handbook may be reviewed by HR, a project team, or both.
STEP 5: SUBMIT THE FINAL VERSION TO LEGAL COUNSEL FOR REVIEW.
Legal counsel will review the completed form to ensure that there are no remarks that might result in contractual commitments.
STEP 6: CHOOSE A FORM OF PUBLICATION
The next step is to select a service provider that will generate the finished employee handbook. A call for bids can be sent by an organization to a few carefully selected vendors. After selecting a vendor, the employer should work with the vendor on all parts of the publication process, including formatting the handbook to a certain size and style. After formatting is complete, the guide should be inspected and authorized before printing.
STEP 7: DISTRIBUTE MANUALS
When the vendor completes the handbooks, the firm must select how to distribute them, such as at new-hire orientation or by handing them out to employees.
Some companies make the handbook available online through their intranet or internal e-mail; nevertheless, paper versions must be made available to employees who do not have Internet access or upon employee request. When policy changes must be communicated to employees, putting the employee handbook on the company intranet or by e-mail is also advantageous.
STEP 8: UPDATE AS NEEDED
Employers should select a point person to be in charge of revising the employee handbook when employment laws or internal policies change. It is also necessary to do a thorough handbook review on a regular basis, such as every one to two years, to ensure that no law or policy changes have been overlooked and that all rules are still current and uniformly implemented across the organization.
What Should Be Avoided In An Employee Handbook?
Restrictive Language that Limits Flexibility
As an employer, you should want your employee handbook to answer your employees’ most important questions; nevertheless, while these answers should be consistent for all employees most of the time, an unforeseen event may compel you to make an exception. When you use words like “must,” “will,” or “need,” you give the impression that the employee has no other choice. Words like “may,” “usually,” and “generally” on the other hand, allow you to determine how you wish to interpret and apply the regulations in your handbook.
Employment, arbitration, non-solicitation, non-competition, and non-disclosure agreements shouldn’t be included. These are legal documents that must be established by an employment law practitioner and presented individually to employees.
Company policies, work processes, and job descriptions should be left out so that you don’t have to revise the entire handbook every time one of them changes. It is advisable to include these in your separate operations handbook.
Health and welfare benefits.
Complete details of health and welfare benefits should be included in a separate benefits guide which should be updated annually.
Policies that may infringe upon the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The NLRA safeguards an employee’s right to engage in or refrain from engaging in protected, coordinated activities to address or improve working conditions. Prohibited rules include prohibiting employees from discussing pay and other employment difficulties, as well as an unduly restrictive social media policy.
Also, note that calling the first 90 days a “probationary” period is somewhat less accepted than in the past, as it negates the concept of willful employment. It is better to title the first 90 days as an “introductory period” or something to this effect.
Creating an employee handbook might appear to be a difficult task. Keeping track of what not to include in your employee handbook should help you simplify the work and gain a better grasp of employee rights vs. business needs and restrictions.
What Are The Different Categories of Employee Handbooks?
Although certain employee handbook formats are more customized to specific sectors, some businesses require a more culture-focused handbook to outline the sorts of communication and work practices that complex modern workforces require.
On the other hand, some companies may need a more straightforward, general handbook that outlines basic principles of conduct, dress code, benefits, and others. But which type of handbook is right for your business? Read on to learn more about some of the most common types of employee handbooks and which of these may apply to your industry:
Defining the culture of your company can seem like a daunting task. While there is a lot that goes into defining the culture of your business, understanding the role of workforce culture within your business is crucial. Adopting a culture-based approach can help your business define the expected behaviors, communication methods, and accepted remote work policies that fit into your model.
Every employee should understand and demonstrate your culture every day based on what you include in this manual. These handbooks are especially useful for modern companies with unique work environments such as tech companies, engineering firms, and other high-level, creative workplaces.
General Info Handbooks
No matter how similar they may seem on the surface, companies conduct business in different ways. This is your chance to let new employees know “how things work around here” while also reminding current employees of what is expected of them. You can write about how meetings are expected to run, how people should communicate, or what unique processes you employ to reinforce the values that define your culture.
For a more readable, engaging handbook, we recommend trying to write simple, to-the-point summaries using a conversational and human tone. Depending on your culture, you can adopt a unique tone that reflects your company values.
preparation of employee handbooks some companies may require employee handbooks that are unique to certain positions within the organization or that are specific to a certain situation.
For example, these could include handbooks that explain how to handle discrimination cases, medical benefits/questions, or other more specific use cases. These use cases can vary by industry, and each business should consider the unique handbooks that may add value to their employee resources.
Another thing to consider is that a lot of case-specific content is created to ensure compliance with federal or state laws. These are typically added to a handbook to protect both employers and employees from lawsuits and to protect everyone’s rights. In these cases, you should have a lawyer help guide you on what sections are relevant to your business.
How Often Should Employee Handbooks Be Updated? / How Do I Change My Employee Handbook
Review your Employee Handbook on a regular basis.
Handbooks should be reviewed/updated at least once a year. Employment rules, particularly at the state and municipal levels, are continually changing, necessitating a review of policies on a regular basis to ensure that notice requirements are met and laws are properly reflected. In Virginia, for example, information on disability and pregnancy accommodations is required by law to be provided in an employer’s handbook. Furthermore, if you work for the government, you may be subject to further limits imposed by presidential decrees (such as pay transparency notification requirements).
Ensure that regulations appropriately represent real-life situations and are simple to grasp.
Handbooks may be useful tools for employers to defend why certain measures about employee conduct and performance were implemented, as well as alert employees of their rights, but only if the policies are accurate. If policies differ from job site to job site, for example, the policies in the handbook may need to be revised. Similarly, if handbook policies are to be used to demonstrate employee comprehension of expectations and rules, they must be expressed in an understandable way. You don’t want any doubts about what was expected.
You must be able to show that the employee got the handbook.
You can have the most beautiful handbook in the world, but it will be meaningless if the employer cannot prove that it was given to or made available to the employee. It is vital to have a written record, signed and dated, of the employee getting the handbook and the expectation that they read it. Furthermore, several state and local laws require that certain restrictions be followed.
Management should be educated about handbook policies.
Ensure that your management team is familiar with and has received training on handbook policies so that they can be applied and understood consistently. A court may consider whether a supervisor is capable of defining the company’s expectations and requirements; if not, the employee may be determined not to be held accountable to such standards.
Legal review is critical.
Finally, before you finalize your handbook, have it reviewed by legal counsel. Handbooks are not one-size-fits-all, so make sure yours meets legal requirements before distributing them to your workforce.
Finally, neglecting to keep your handbook up to date may result in a lawsuit. Although updating a handbook may not be your favorite activity, businesses might benefit significantly from doing so once a year.
The benefit of creating and maintaining an employee handbook may be overlooked by busy businesses in the daily whirlwind of establishing a business, managing client requirements, and attempting to recruit and keep the proper staff.
However, having an employee handbook in place may help protect you and your firm against disagreements and even litigation in the long term.
A well-defined employee handbook and standards that are consistently followed benefit both firms and employees. It may also help hr managers tackle workplace challenges encountered on a daily basis.