Guidelines for Employee Handbooks
An employee handbook is essential for the well-being of every organization. It communicates the employer’s mission, vision and culture, as well as information on rules, policies and benefits. It also contains information on state and federal employment laws.
When well-constructed, employee handbooks help employers build trusting relationships with workers, avoid conflicts and ensure fair treatment in the workplace. When poorly written, they can create a nightmare of situations for HR, ranging from hostile work environments to lawsuits.
According to Allan H. Weitzman, head of the Labor and Employment Law Department of Proskauer Rose LLP, when it comes to employee handbooks, “every word counts.” He says there are seven principles every HR professional should follow when creating one:
1. Make sure your handbook is NOT an employment contract.
2. Plainly state employer rules, regulations and procedures.
3. Describe your policies designed to assist employees.
4. Communicate your commitment to equal opportunity.
5. Set guidelines for the termination of employment.
6. Develop cutting-edge policies.
7. Incorporate state and local legal requirements into your handbook.
It is imperative that employers update their handbooks on a regular basis to ensure compliance with all state and federal employment laws and with changes to their own policies and procedures. When faced with lawsuits by employees, these check-ups could make or break an employer’s case in court.