The Art Of An Employee Handbook
Writing an employee handbook is a daunting task for most employers. That’s why many include only the most basic policies. However, this may not be enough to properly inform your employees and protect you. To more proactively reduce your risk as an employer, consider revamping your old employee handbook with thorough policies.
Last Minute Additions That May Be A Good Idea:
- Social Media – Social media is everywhere today. You should certainly address it by revamping any old employee handbooks. Laws are still unsettled about what you can and cannot direct your employees to do or not do on social media. Despite this, you can still direct employees on work-related posts (such as making them off-limits). Additionally, you can decide if employees can use social media on company time.
- Lunch Break – Lunch breaks should be clearly written in a policy. This will include the length of time an employee can take lunch, where he or she can take it (such as in the break room rather than at his or her desk), and if the employee needs to clock out or not. Each state has its own laws which govern lunch breaks, so be sure to know the laws in your state to ensure compliance.
- Dress Code – You may think dress code in a business is a no-brainer. So, you may be surprised when some of your employees fail to follow the unwritten rules. Adding a dress code policy will clearly state what is and is not appropriate work wear. It will also make it easier for you and your managers to address any unacceptable attire without negative repercussions.
- Employee Dating – Encouraging a friendly atmosphere in the workplace is important, however, you may not want your employees dating one another. Romantic relationships can lead to a range of issues, including distractions and office conflicts. To avoid these issues, clearly state in your employee handbook that while you are not interested in controlling your employees’ personal lives, you strongly discourage romances in the workplace. You can also include rules governing romances in the workplace should they arise, such as disallowing romantically involved workers from reporting to each other, disallowing public displays of affection (PDA) in the workplace, and clearly outlining the consequences for breaking these rules.
- Gifts and Favors – While it is nice to receive appreciation from clients or vendors, it is important that it does not get out of hand and create a conflict of interest with your employees’ job responsibilities and responsibilities to the company. Having formal gifts and favors policy can help solve this problem. For example, you can say that gifts, lunches, etc. can be accepted as long as the value is under a specified amount. You should also have a contact that your employees can go to if they are unsure if they should accept a gift or not.
- Employee Complaint Resolution – When an employee wants to make a complaint, you should have clear instructions in your employee handbook. This includes the proper steps the employee must take and the steps the company will take when responding. This provides employees with a constructive way to voice any concerns. It also gives you the opportunity to address these concerns. This type of policy can also help defend your company in the event an employee files a regulatory charge or lawsuit.
- Leave Yourself An “Out” – One of the most important things an employee handbook can offer is an “out” for you and your company should issues arise. You should include a phrase like, “We reserve the right to change the policy at any time.” Obviously, any future changes will still need to be put in writing, but this clause allows you the basic right to make those changes when needed. Employees need to know that you maintain the right to set the rules.
Want more info?
To learn more about why employee handbooks are so important, be sure to read our blog post Why It’s Important: Employee Handbooks.
The team at Optimum Employer Solutions, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) in Orange County, California, can help you with all of your HR outsourcing needs. Along with payroll and benefits management, we can also write the employee handbook for your company. Contact us today for more information.