Honestly, on a scale of 1 to 5, how would rate your employee handbook?

  • 5 – Super Star: It was updated in 2017 to reflect recent changes in the laws and your changing business practices.
  • 4 –  Wannabe a Star. The handbook was updated in the past 2 years. We know we need to review it again because new local or state legislation have come on the books.
  • 3 – Could be better. It was updated in 2010. That’s 7 years ago! Amazing how fast time flies, isn’t it?
  • 2 – Atrocious. The handbook was downloaded from the internet and we used “Find/Replace” to incorporate our company name.
  • 1 – Employee handbook, who has time to read it anyway? I guess we have one but I have never read it.

If you are like the majority of organizations, you will rate your employee handbook a “3” at best.

Why have An Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a communication tool. It provides a written guide to work policies and rules. It sets basic expectations (work hours, acceptable grooming, pay day schedule) and lay out key procedures from the practical (such as how to request leave) to the more difficult (how to report harassment from your supervisor).  

Although employee handbooks do not have to be lengthy, they should include the following types of information in the state of Virginia:

  • At-will employment disclaimer
  • Equal Employment Opportunity statement and anti-harassment policy
  • Company policies and work rules
  • Benefits information even if it’s only worker’s compensation and paid holidays
  • Definition of FLSA status (exempt, non-exempt)
  • Employment classification (full-time, part-time, seasonal, on-call).

The handbook also serves as a reference tool for management when determining if employee conduct violates workplace policies.  

Is A Business Ever Too Small To Have An Employee Handbook?
Although you may think that your business is too small to need an employee handbook, you may be surprised to hear that some employment statutes apply to all employers regardless of size. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act -which dictates the need to pay overtime- apply to all employers. Ditto for the verification of the legal status of all employees, known as the I-9 requirement, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (often known as OSHA).

A Note Of Caution
An employee handbook is a useful tool, but poorly written employee handbook can be used as a weapon against you.  For instance, a handbook that is misusing certain key terms, as such probation period, could endanger the at-will status of employment. It’s better to not have a handbook than a bad one. If you know your handbook doesn’t make the cut, scrap it now!

If you are considering drafting an employee handbook, it is wise to seek professional advice from an experienced HR professional or attorney specialized in employment law.

Training is crucial

Employment policies only come alive when supervisors understand and know how to implement them in the workplace. In short, “Write what you do” and “Do what you write” is key here.

Employers will be held liable if their practices did not follow the written policies.

So when you update your employee handbook, take the time to train supervisors and employees on the changes.

Be social and share your thoughts on Facebook or call me at 757-303-1635  to talk about your employee handbook.