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The Employee Handbook Solution

Looking for ideas about the content of a comprehensive employee handbook? Here's a list of the policies, procedures, and professional behavioral expectations found in many employee handbooks.

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Looking for ideas about the content of a comprehensive employee handbook? Here’s a list of the policies, procedures, and professional behavioral expectations found in many employee handbooks. This sample employee handbook table of contents also covers pay, benefits, performance expectations and legal issues.

Please do pick and choose for your own employee handbook and I'll work to continue to develop the content back-up and samples. When additional resources are available on the site about a particular employee handbook item, I have linked additional articles, policies, checklists, and forms.

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As with any document you distribute to employees, you need to have your employee handbook reviewed by an employment law attorney. It is too easy to unconsciously create contracts that limit your ability to manage your workplace. You also want to manage your relationship with your employees legally, ethically, and by interacting consistently so you don’t create perceived favoritism. Additionally, the purpose of an employee handbook is to let employees know what is expected so they have the opportunity to perform effectively.

In all cases, you want to prepare an employee handbook receipt and acknowledgment form for employees to sign. This receipt should acknowledge that the employee has read and understands the policies and guidelines presented in the handbook. Further, this statement should reaffirm the "employment at will" status of the employment of each employee. Finally, the statement should contain a disclaimer, similar to the disclaimer in the actual employee handbook, that the employee understands that the contents are simply policies and guidelines, not a contract or implied contract with employees.

Official Disclaimer:

The private websites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, is opinion and information. Please note that Susan makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice on this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site is not to be construed as legal advice.

The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel.

Definition:

An employee handbook is a compilation of the policies, procedures, working conditions, and behavioral expectations that guide employee actions in a particular workplace. Employee handbooks generally also include information about the company, employee compensation and benefits, and additional terms and conditions of employment.

Employers use the policies in an employee handbook to protect themselves from lawsuits, such as harassment claims, wrongful termination claims, and discrimination claims. Employee handbooks generally contain a code of conduct for employees that sets guidelines around appropriate behavior for the individual workplace. Progressive discipline and procedures for making a complaint are also in most employee handbooks. In locations where at-will employment exists, the at-will employment statement is in the employee handbook.

Employees are expected to review and be familiar with the contents of the employee handbook. A majority of employers ask employees to sign a statement to demonstrate that the employee has read the employee handbook and agrees to abide by the contents. This signed document acknowledges that the employee understands and has received a copy of the employee handbook.

Additionally, the statement contains a disclaimer, similar to the disclaimer in the actual employee handbook, that the employee understands that the contents are simply policies and guidelines, not a contract or implied contract with employees.

Sample Employee Handbook Contents

Overview and Employment Relationship

  • Introduction and Purpose of the Handbook
     
  • Welcome Message from the President/CEO
     
  • Company History
     
  • Company Vision
     
  • Company Mission
     
  • Company Values
     
  • Company Overall Goals
     
  • Company Commitment to Employees
     
  • Code of Conduct and Business Ethics
     
  • Employee and Employer Confidentiality Agreement
     
  • Non-compete Agreement
     
  • Employee Handbook Disclaimer
     
  • Employment Relationship: At Will Employment
     
  • Employee Signoff Signifying Receipt of the Handbook, the At-will Statement, and Employee Acknowledgement That He or She Understands and Will Abide by the Contents

General Employment Information

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Policy (article)
     
  • Accommodation for People With Disabilities (article)
     
  • Employment Eligibility
     
  • Internal Employee Application Process
     
  • Promotions
     
  • Employment of Relatives
     
  • Rehiring Policy
     
  • Open Door Policy
     
  • Personnel File Policy
     
  • Access to Personnel Records
     
  • Harassment and Discrimination
     
  • Harassment and Discrimination Reporting Procedure
     
  • Harassment Investigation Process
     
  • Office Romances

Attendance at Work

  • Exempt and Non-exempt Employee Definitions
     
  • Working Hours and Overtime
     
  • Break and Lunch Periods
     
  • Attendance Expectations and Policy
     
  • Severe Weather and Emergency Closings
     
  • Telecommuting Policy

Workplace Professionalism and Company Representation

  • Work Dress Code
     
  • Smoke-Free Workplace
     
  • Drugs and Alcohol: Drug-Free Workplace
     
  • Workplace Violence
     
  • Weapons at Work
     
  • Safety and Security
     
  • Parking
     
  • Workplace Visitors
     
  • Conflicts of Interest
     
  • Accepting and Giving Entertainment or Gifts
     
  • Travel for Business Policy
     
  • Mileage Reimbursement

Compensation and Benefits

Payroll Information

  • Compensation Schedule
     
  • Recording Time Worked

Benefits

  • Benefits Eligibility
     
  • Health Insurance
     
  • Dental Insurance
     
  • Vision Insurance
     
  • Group Life Insurance
     
  • Disability Insurance
     
  • COBRA
     
  • Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSAs)
     
  • 401(k) Plan
     
  • Bonuses
     
  • Workers' Compensation (article)
     
  • Unemployment Compensation (article)
     
  • Expense Reimbursement
     
  • Educational Assistance (article)
     
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
     
  • Paid Legal Aid
     
  • Supplemental Insurance
     
  • Stock Options
     
  • Employee Discounts
     
  • Retirement

Employee Time Off From Work

  • Paid Holidays
     
  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
     
  • Vacation
     
  • Sick Leave
     
  • Attendance Policy
     
  • Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) (article)
     
  • Bereavement Leave
     
  • Jury Duty
     
  • Military Leave (USERRA)

Use of Company Equipment and Electronics

  • Telephone Use
     
  • Cell Phone Policy
     
  • Company Tools, Equipment and Supplies
     
  • Computer and Internet Use Policy
     
  • Blogging and Social Media Policy

Monitoring in the Workplace:

  • Email, Computer, Voicemail, Internet and Telephone Usage
     
  • Video Surveillance and Physical Searches

Performance Expectations and Evaluation

  • Performance Development Planning and Feedback Process
     
  • Employee Conduct and Performance
     
  • Immediate Employment Termination (article)
     
  • Progressive Discipline
     
  • Conflict Resolution
     
  • Complaint Procedure
     
  • Employment Termination (article)
     
  • Exit Interviews (sample questions)
     
  • Return of Company Property