Creating an Employee Handbook
The first major section of your employee handbook contains employee policies. These policies give information to employees about your expectations of them.
- An employee benefits and time off section, which includes:
- Attendance and Punctuality
Include a section stating that employees are expected to be at work every day and on time. Define "excessive" absenteeism and "habitual" lateness.
- Breaks, lunch times, staff lounge
May employees take breaks at any time or are there specific break times? What about lunch? Describe the protocols for use of the staff lounge.
- Computer software and documents
Make employees aware of copyright laws relating to documents. What documents may not be copied? What copies may be made of software? Where are the software licenses and what do they say?
- Confidentiality; gifts
State policies relating to business matters and proprietary procedures. Employees should not take gifts from customers except for very small tokens.
Describe procedures for discipline, including warnings, written and oral. Include an appeals process, even for a small office, so employees feel they have "somewhere to go." Describe circumstances under which employment may be terminated. How much notice is given? How is accumulated vacation paid?
- Drugs and alcohol use; smoking policy
State that use of drugs or alcohol on company premises is cause for immediate dismissal. Do you allow smoking on company premises?
- EEOC statement
You do not discriminate against any one for any reasons; you might also discuss accommodation for religious observances, and policies regarding applicants and employees with disabilities.
- Equal Pay
You evaluate your employee pay depending on the level of the position and on performance, not on external factors such as sex.
Tell employees how and when you conduct performance reviews.
- Employee status (full-time vs. part-time; probationary).
Describe the weekly hours required for full-time employment (32? 35? 40?). Do full-time employees have benefits (such as health insurance) that part-timers do not? Do part-timers receive paid vacation?
State that your company does not tolerate it, either between employees or involving customers. Discuss how harassment complaints are to be handled.
- Hiring policies
Describe how you advertise a position, internally and externally, and your interview process.
- Office Dress Code
You may want to include a general statement about adherence to dress policies, including hair, makeup, jewelry. If employees are required to wear specific uniforms, who pays for these? Who pays for cleaning? Foul or abusive language can be "just cause" for termination.
- Orientation/training of new employees
Describe your company's program of on-the-job training and orientation. Is orientation time paid?
- Pay periods/time sheets/paychecks/overtime
How often are employees paid? (Every two weeks or twice a month are typical.) Emphasize that time sheets/time cards must be maintained by all employees; when must they be turned in? State that paychecks include information on deductions, year-to-date information. State when employees are eligible for overtime.
- Parking for employees
Describe your parking lot and any restrictions on its use. Do employees need a parking card to enter the lots? How are the lots monitored?
- Personal phone calls and visitors
Describe your policies on visitors and personal phone calls.
- Probationary period
It's a good idea to include a period of time, usually not more than 90 days, during which a new employee is evaluated and the employment is "temporary" or "at will." You can adjust pay after this probationary period, to provide incentive to a new employee. Usually, probationary employees do not receive benefits, but will you pay probationary employees for paid holidays that fall within the probationary period? Do probationary employees begin accruing time toward calculation of vacation pay during this time?
Request that an employee who wishes to resign give you at least two weeks' notice.
- Weather days
Describe how and when you will notify employees if the business is closed for bad weather. Include a statement on how you will treat employee time off for weather when the business remains open.
Next, go to Page 3 to learn how to create the Employee Benefits section.
- Attendance and Punctuality