Employee handbooks may seem unnecessary when you’ve got a small team.
Though employee handbooks are not required by law, recording key policies can protect your business. Plus, it gives your employees the clarity they need to know how things work.
What is an employee handbook?
An employee handbook—or employee manual—is an important living document for your employees that outlines your company policies, history, and culture for current and future employees.
It is best practice to start a handbook as soon as you hire your first employee, as it defines expectations and can protect you legally.
PayNortheast provides a step-by-step handbook builder allowing you to build professional, fully compliant, employee handbooks with ease.
1. Onboarding and joining the team
Many businesses chooses to create an employee handbook to train new hires. So kick things off by laying out the basics that every employee should know.
The employee onboarding section may include your:
At-will employment clause
Equal employment opportunity statement
Conflict of interest statement
General details, such as directions to the office, team structure, and key contact info
2. Code of conduct
Your code of conduct section should spell out your companies policies for life as a member of your team. If there’s anything that’s frowned upon, this section should cover it. For example, you can explain your:
Dress code policy
Substance-free workplace policy
Taking disciplinary action
3. Office environment
What’s life like at the office? This section of your employee handbook explains how, when, and where employees are expected to get things done. You’ll want to include topics like:
Your work-from-home policy
Lunch and break periods
How to keep the workplace safe
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations
Use of company equipment
4. Communication policies
How does your team interact with each other? What about customers, vendors, and other partners? Some of this may seem like common sense, but it can still be helpful to spell it all out in your employee manual.
Set your expectations for communications through:
5. Compensation and performance reviews
The next two sections are ones your employees will likely flip back to frequently.
Here’s a look at the policies you’ll want to cover:
Job classification details
Salary and bonuses
Promotions and transfers
Travel and expense policy
Here’s where you list out the benefits you offer your team and explain how they match up with the values you celebrate.
Open with a quick-reference section that outlines details such as which types of workers are eligible, when benefits kick in, and your plan’s policy number. Then, start with the essentials and work your way up to the icing-on-the-cake benefits:
Health, disability, life, and workers’ comp insurance information
Retirement plans, like a 401(k)
Paid time off (PTO)
Other leave policies, such as parental leave, sick leave, or jury duty
7. When someone leaves
Sometimes you need to part ways. This section of your employee handbook should explain what happens when someone quits or gets terminated.
Explain the offboarding basics, such as:
When your employee will receive their final paycheck
How exit interviews work
How COBRA benefits work if someone is laid off or fired.
8. Your company story
And last, don’t forget to share who you are and why you’re here! (Okay, this isn’t really a policy, but it’s still important).
Who is your company and what do you do?
Why does it matter?
Why should others care, too?
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax, legal, benefits, financial, or HR advice. Since rules and regulations change over time and can vary by location, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance.