Employee Handbooks, Part 2: What to Include in Your Employee Handbook

Last month, we discussed the role that Employee Handbooks play in an organization, the direct influence they have on company culture, and why every company should have one.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just HAVE a handbook, you also have to make sure that it contains all of the right information and outlines your policies effectively as it could be used in unemployment hearings, or even court.

While most company handbooks have a variety of information specific to the individual business, (such as their founding information and company history), every handbook should also incorporate a few of the same, pertinent sections to ensure their employees are well-informed, and that the company itself is legally protected.

1. Onboarding Processes

This section is geared towards new hires and should contain the most important “first day” forms and agreements, including, but not limited to:

  • Stating at-will employment specifications, if applicable
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Important contact information

2. Policy Expectations

Your employee handbook should offer your employees a clear scope of responsibilities and expectations, along with consequences for not meeting those requirements. It should also detail the company policy for scheduled and unscheduled leave, cell phone and social media policies, dress codes, and timekeeping policies.

A thorough employee handbook should also define the responsibilities of the employer, regarding items like:

  • Pay rates & pay periods
  • Overtime policies
  • Sick & vacation leave
  • Jury duty
  • Military service leave
  • Bereavement
  • Jury duty
  • Harassment or retaliatory conduct

3. Compensation & Benefits

This will likely be the most “well-worn” section of any employee handbook. And understandably so. Here’s a look at the items relating to payment and benefits you’ll want to be sure to include:

  • Payroll schedule
  • Salary
  • Performance reviews
  • Bonus structures
  • FMLA
  • Promotion
  • 401(k) & IRA plans
  • Travel & expense reimbursement
  • PTO
  • Health & life insurance
  • Disability & workers comp information

4. Exit Procedures

This section should detail the procedures that both employee and employer take when an employee is either terminated or gives notice that they are leaving the company. Some items you may want to include in this section will discuss:

– Final paycheck and unused leave distribution
– The exit interview process
– Eligibility for COBRA benefits and how they work

5. Acknowledgment

It is imperative that an employee handbook 
always include an “Acknowledgement,” where the employee signs off that they have read, and agree to, all of the policies and procedures included in the handbook. This acknowledgment should also include that by signing the employee agrees to accept disciplinary action including termination if they violate company code or policy.

Taking the time to compile a detailed employee handbook will not only give your business the organization and structure your employees need, but it could also make the difference between winning or losing unemployment claims, saving you valuable time and money.

The best way to make sure that your handbook not just covers all the basics, but also all of the fine details that protect both you and your employees, is to contact an experienced business law attorney. The legal team at Phillips & Muir can help make sure your company handbook is legally enforceable. Give us a call today at 1-786-533-1100 to discuss your options.




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