The depth and breadth of a company’s handbook can vary widely based on its size or resources. Regardless of the size of your company or the number of employees you have, as a matter of best practice, it is important for any company to provide all employees with written policies so as to avoid employment problems in the future. In providing notice of the employer’s policies to its employees, an employer can avoid scenarios where a disgruntled employee claims that they did not have knowledge of the employer’s policies. There are certain policies that every employer should include in their employee handbooks, some of which are outlined below.
For an employer who employs different classifications of employees, it is important to clearly define the status of each group. If your company employs multiple types of workers, such as full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees, it is important to clearly delineate how each group is determined and which positions fall within which group. This will ensure that all employees have an understanding of the expectations of each position and eliminate confusion.
Although employers are required to pay eligible employees overtime pay for hours worked beyond certain thresholds, employers are also permitted to determine the process for assigning overtime, if at all. A thorough employer will ensure that employees are aware that all overtime must be approved by the employer, and that employees are prohibited from performing work tasks beyond their assigned hours. By notifying employees of this policy, an employer can better protect itself against claims for overtime payment where the employee was not specifically permitted to perform overtime work.
Paid Time Off
Employers should have a standard policy for awarding time off. This time should be broken down into sick, vacation, and personal time. The handbook should clearly state how and when time off is to be utilized and, further, should clearly state if unused time accrues to the next year or if an employee will be compensated for unused time.
A thorough employee handbook will include policies governing the usage of company property, such as: vehicles, equipment, and internet. Clearly articulating the employer’s expectations for the use of its property can avoid unnecessary issues later if an employer terminates an employee for misusing property. It is a common tactic for employees to claim that they were unaware that the manner in which they were using company property was in violation of the employer’s policies, and a clearly written policy can be a company’s best defense against that claim.
An employee handbook should always include clear guidelines as to what constitutes misconduct and how the employer will address that misconduct. Employers may outline a progressive disciplinary policy which clearly spells out increased punishments for offenses. As with usage policies, a well-written disciplinary policy can provide an employer with a strong defense when an employee claims to be unaware that certain conduct could lead to discipline.