Wondering how to write an employee handbook? Whether you’re an entrepreneur ready to hire your first staff or an established company who needs an updated employee handbook, there‘s a laundry list of items to consider including. This basic employee handbook template will help you start writing an employee handbook that clearly defines company guidelines. Here are key components to consider:
General Employment Information
An employee handbook for small business should include an overview of your general employment policies, which may include:
- Employment eligibility requirements
- Probationary period policy
- Job classifications
- Job posting protocol
- Work schedules
- Policies for attendance and reporting absences
- Flex scheduling or telecommuting guidelines, if necessary
- Employee records
- Transfer & relocation procedures
- Termination & resignation policies
- Union info, if necessary
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Explain the deductions to be withheld from paychecks, including required state and federal taxes as well as deductions for voluntary benefit programs the employee may participate in. Also outline the company’s legal obligations for overtime compensation.
In addition, when you’re writing an employee handbook, spell out policies regarding timekeeping, breaks, pay schedules, performance reviews, salary increases, and bonus opportunities.
The handbook should also contain the company’s leave policy, especially when regarding legally-mandated situations, such as family medical leave, military duty, jury duty, or time off for voting. Also outline policies regarding holidays, vacations, illnesses, and bereavement.
When writing an employee handbook always include details for all company benefit programs, such as health insurance, retirement, etc. Include explanations of benefits your business may be required to provide, such as worker’s compensation, COBRA, and disability insurance.
Do you offer fringe benefits? Detail those as well, whether it’s reimbursement for business travel or tuition assistance.
Standards of Conduct
Outline the behaviors you expect in the workplace. If your small business is in a regulated industry or it has legal obligations to customers, clients, or vendors, ensure that employees are aware of their obligations regarding the laws.
You are required to comply with the equal opportunity employment laws that bar workplace discrimination and harassment. Include information about these regulations and your expectations for how employees should comply with them.
Employee Safety & Security
An employee handbook for small business should outline the policies that create a safe, secure environment. These include OSHA laws and requirements, such as accident reporting, injuries, safety suggestions, etc.
The company security policy will cover the employee’s responsibility for protecting the physical environment (such as locking doors at closing time) and the information environment (such as locking down computers when they’re not in use.)
With tech playing an increasingly critical role in how businesses operate and communicate, it’s important to specifically state guidelines for the workplace use of software and computers, including social media use. If you collect personally identifiable information from customers, the employee handbook should also include steps workers must take to keep the information secure.
Non-Disclosures & Conflict of Interest
If you need to protect a trade secret (like your restaurant’s secret sauce) or prevent conflicts of interest, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and conflict of interest statements are a proactive way to protect your company’s proprietary info.
Small businesses owners and managers know how important it is to have a single, consistent voice to represent the company to the media. Let employees know how to handle questions from reporters or other media outlets, including bloggers. If you have a company spokesperson, list that person’s name and contact info in the media section.
Make your job as an owner or manager easier.
Will writing an employee handbook for your small business solve every personnel issue? Probably not. But writing an employee handbook that is clear and concise can go a long way toward reducing or preventing confusion among employees—which means you can spend more time leading the team instead of putting out fires.
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