Employee Handbook Template: 5 Sections to Include in Your Company Handbook
Informative and compliant employee handbooks provide valuable information to associates about the employer’s workplace policies. Handbooks also include crucial state-required employment communications, ensuring the organization remains compliant.
Read on to learn more about the importance of creating an employee handbook and access a helpful employee handbook template.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a communication tool for employers and employees. It offers an overview of the leadership team’s expectations and an easily digestible summary of the company’s policies, procedures, and processes.
A well-thought-out employee handbook saves the company time and resources — it provides employees with answers to common questions that would otherwise end up on their manager or HR’s desk. Also, instead of issuing several separate documents, a handbook allows you to combine all that information for easy access and dissemination.
Employee Handbook Requirements by State
Technically, no federal or state laws require organizations to issue an employee handbook. However, many state employment laws and regulations require employers to communicate specific policies, procedures, and rights with their employees. An employee handbook is an excellent way to comply with such laws and regulations.
Creating an Employee Handbook
Most employee handbook templates comprise five sections:
- Policies and Procedures
- Employee Benefits
- Safety Responsibilities
- Summary and Acknowledgement
Use the below outline to serve as a template as you create your employee handbook.
The Welcome section includes an employee handbook welcome statement and summarizes what’s covered in the document. The section also gives information about the organization’s background, mission, and values.
Three crucial components for the welcome section are the at-will and contractual disclaimer, the employer’s right to change disclaimer, and the equal opportunity statement.
The at-will disclaimer, where it’s legal to do so, indicates that employment is at-will, and the employee can be terminated at any time. Here, it’s important to clarify that the handbook is not considered an employment agreement.
The employer’s right to change disclaimer indicates that the employer has the right to change and update the handbook at any time without notice.
An equal employment opportunity statement highlights that the employer does not discriminate based on protection under the equal employment opportunity act, including age, sex, and disability.
2. Company Policies and Procedures
The Policies and Procedures section summarizes your policies and procedures in easily digestible terms. In other words, no legal jargon should be used. Examples of policies described include:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Drug and Alcohol
- Exit Process
- Hours of Work
- Paydays and Payroll Deductions
- Performance Reviews
- Standards of Conduct
3. Employee Benefits
A summary of the benefits offered by the organization should be included in a comprehensive employee handbook. Examples of benefits to outline are:
- Bereavement Leave
- Educational Assistance Program
- Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
- Health Insurance
- Jury Duty
- Paid Time Off (PTO)
- Retirement Plans
- Service Awards
- Sick Leave
4. Safety Responsibilities
The Safety section shares the company’s commitment to the safety of its employees. It details emergency procedures, OSHA requirements and rules, reporting protocols for accidents, information about medical services offered, and guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE).
5. Summary and Acknowledgement
The final section of an employee handbook provides a summary outlining the importance of the company’s policies and procedures. The acknowledgment of receipt for employees to review and sign is also in this section.
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Updating Employee Handbooks
It’s best for organizations to identify a point person to periodically review and update the handbook. Updates should occur anytime an internal policy or employment law changes.
Conduct a thorough review of your handbook every one to two years to ensure information is compliant and current.
Distributing Your Handbook
Once the handbook is ready, it’s time to disseminate it. Many businesses opt to create a PDF version of their handbook to post on the company intranet and email to employees.
If you’re a small organization with limited internal resources, an option is to outsource your employee handbook development to an HR consultant. Whether you choose to tackle your handbook development yourself or offload it to an outside expert, ensuring you have a current employee handbook will benefit the entire workforce at all levels within your company.