A number of court cases have confirmed that business owners can help protect themselves against legal disputes by creating a published employee handbook. An employee handbook or policy manual is one of the most essential communication tools between your company and your employees. By creating an employee handbook and related HR personnel policies, every employee receives the same information on the rules of the workplace. Your employees know what is expected of them and they know what they can expect from the company. A well written, up-to-date HR handbook is a must for all small and mid-size businesses.

Effectively Communicate Your Workplace Policies
Regardless of how many employees you have working at your company, creating an employee handbook or personnel manual that clearly explains your workplace policies is critical for your business. When company policies are not provided in a consistent manner or when benefit plans are not explained properly, misunderstandings occur. Those misunderstandings can become legal disputes when the issues involve things like discrimination, workplace harassment, overtime and attendance policies.

Essential Components of an Employee Handbook
An HR personnel manual or employee handbook includes information on general work policies, employee classification, orientation & training, workplace harassment, compensation & benefits, attendance, personal conduct, termination of employment and internet/email policies... plus much more. When distributing the company's policy manual to your employees, it is recommended that you have them sign an acknowledgement form showing that they have received a copy of the employee handbook.

Several policies, topics and sections you may want to include in your employee handbook are:

  • At-will disclaimer
  • General policies & procedures
  • Federal employment laws & standard employment practices
  • Compensation and performance
  • Employment benefit programs and leave policies
  • Standards of conduct policies
  • Internet and email policies

The actual policies, guidelines and topics you decide to include in your employee handbook may vary from company to company depending on how many employees you have and the benefits you offer. Once you hire your first employee, your company personnel manual should be one of the first formal communications you give to them.