An employee handbook is a useful resource that ensures all employees are aware of rules and expectations. Writing this handbook is quite the undertaking and it might be confusing as to what you should include in it. Accordingly, this article will discuss what an employee handbook is. It will also provide some tips on how to write one, and discuss the suggested contents of it.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document that outlines a business’s rules, policies and expectations for its employees. It also lists what employees are to expect from the employer. Generally, new hires will be provided with a copy of this handbook. They will sign a form once they have read it and agreed with its terms.
This is an important resource to have because it ensures your employees understand your business policies and rules. It will show employees that your business is applying these rules and guidelines consistently. By clearly setting out company policies, employee handbooks promote a positive, productive and safe work environment. They also ensure that it is an environment free from improper and harmful conduct.
Are Employee Handbooks Required by Law?
Employers have a legal responsibility to inform their employees of their rights and responsibilities. However, there are no Australian federal or state laws requiring employee handbooks.
Regardless, these handbooks are useful in clarifying expectations and reducing misunderstandings at work. They also help employees clearly see their benefits and compensations that they are entitled to receive.
The employee handbook is important because it can protect the company from certain lawsuits in the event of an employee claim. Depending on the case itself, you can prove that an employee knew the standards of their role. This could increase an employer’s chances of successfully defending a claim in wrongful termination and discrimination law suits.
What to Include in Your Employee Handbook
The structure and contents of the employee handbook is entirely up to you. However, the information included will depend on the size of your company and the industry you specialise in. Regardless of your approach, certain details that every company should include in their handbook include:
- a welcome for new staff;
- the background and culture of the company;
- mission and vision statements;
- workplace code of conduct;
- workplace health and safety policies;
- hours of work;
- leave processes and procedures;
- pay and benefits;
- performance standards;
- training and development; and
- termination of employment.
It is important that you also inform staff on employment policies and procedures relating to your business. Thus, you should not simply copy and paste templates you find online. The terms included within the handbook should be customised to your business and industry.
Accordingly, below are some of the most common policies and procedures to clarify in your employee handbook:
- Absence and sickness policies;
- Equal opportunity policies;
- Email, internet and social media policies;
- Use of company property policies;
- Bullying and harassment policies;
- Disciplinary and grievance policies;
- Parental leave procedures; or
- Resignation procedures.
Publishing your employee handbook
Once the employee handbook is written, it is recommended that the handbook be checked by a lawyer before publishing. This will vet the document prior to its distribution to employees.
Then, it must be in a format that every employee can access easily. Therefore, it is recommended that the handbook can be saved as a .pdf and found on the company intranet site. Printing hard copies for common areas in the office is also a good idea.
Updating Your Employee Handbook
An employee handbook must be updated annually as employment laws are modified. Thus, it is necessary to review, revise and recirculate employee handbooks yearly. Further, it is important to have employees sign relevant agreements to confirm receipt of the updated document.
In conclusion, an employee handbook is an important resource to have. It will clarify expectations and standards for both the employer and employee of a workplace. If you would like to learn more about how you can create an employee handbook, be sure to contact Lawpath for assistance.
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