What Should Be In Your Employee Handbook

Any organization with more than one or two employees should consider creating a written employee handbook outlining non-contractual employment terms and working conditions. Having an employee handbook ensures everyone in the organization is operating from the same set of procedures.

 All employees should be asked to acknowledge in writing their receipt of the employee handbook at the time they are hired and at any time the handbook is modified. Any modifications to the employee handbook should have a date attached.

We will not attempt to review every policy or procedure that might be included in an employee handbook. We have limited our discussion to some of the highlights. The contents of an employee handbook have the following sections:

General Employment Policies

Confidentiality- Employees must treat all information regarding supported persons and staff as confidential.  No person may give out information or furnish names of supported persons or doctors to anyone outside the organization without a release of information signed by the affected supported person and/or guardian (when applicable).  Employees must be informed that the organization’s trade secrets, client’s lists, and other items are not to be shared outside the organization.

Dress Code- Your firm may require a dress code for safety or professional reasons.

Ethical Practices and Honesty- Your organization should require employees to conduct business affairs in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Outline employee benefits, vacations, work week, tardy policies, time off, sick days and the employee health plan. 

Employment Policies

At will employment statement- All employment and compensation with our organization is “at will” which means that your employment can be terminated with or without cause, and with or without notice, at any time, at the option of either us or yourself, except as otherwise provided by law.

Introductory period- This section of the employee handbook should state that there is a 90 or 120 period in which the employment relationship may end for any reason.

Immigration and Employment- A statement outlining that only United States Citizens or those legally entitled to work in the United States will be employed.

Equal Employment Opportunity- Every employee handbook needs to have a statement regarding the organization’s willingness to hire and promote without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, ancestry, or status as a veteran.

Disciplinary Approach- The progressive disciplinary process should begin with informal counseling or coaching by direct supervision. If continued discipline is required, verbal, formal, written and final written warnings would take place in that order. At all steps the performance issue should be detailed and the action expected for future compliance as well as the consequence of failure to correct a behavioral or performance shortcoming.

Performance evaluation- Every employee should be given an annual performance evaluation. Employee performance should be measured based on objective job-related criteria developed by management and communicated in advance.  Performance evaluations are meant to be an ongoing process and should not be confined to the formal review process.

Job Descriptions- Each position should have an outlined job description. 

Drug testing policy- If you require drug tests, your employee handbook needs to describe the procedures.

Substance Abuse Policy- Every handbook should include a policy regarding the job drug and alcohol use.

Anti-Harassment Policy- Harassment is defined as any conduct that substantially interferes with an employee’s work duties or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.  This would include but is not limited to, harassment, threatening or offensive conduct directed toward a person’s gender, race, age, disability, religion, national origin, veteran status, gender orientation, and current or future military status.

Safety rules and regulations – A general overview of the safety program. The organization should have a separate detailed safety manual.

Use of internet, computers and other devices- Employees’ use of the internet, email, and other devices should be for business use only. To ensure compliance with this policy, your organization may consider monitoring use of the equipment. Provide notification to the employee that emails are the property of the company.

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