Although there is no federal law that requires organizations to produce employee handbooks, providing them for your staff helps create positive employer-employee relationships and protects your organization from potential wrongful harassment, termination or discrimination lawsuits.
Here are two reasons why handbooks benefit employers and employees:
Promotes a Positive Workplace Atmosphere
Company handbooks provide employees with a set of clearly defined policies, rules and guidelines. Well-written handbooks also outline consequences for not following company policies, as well as where employees should turn to if they have a problem. Having this information on hand helps workers understand their employer’s expectations and what they should expect from their employer.
Because each employee receives the same handbook, they all review the same information. These documents set the precedent for fair and consistent employee treatment. To ensure effectiveness and understanding and to avoid low employee morale and job dissatisfaction, keep your handbook clear, concise, easy to follow, and up to date.
Although you don’t want to fill your employee handbook with confusing legalese, it can serve as your biggest protection for or evidence against your company in a lawsuit. Many courts see employee handbooks as contracts between an employer and its employees. For this reason, avoid using promises, guarantees and entitlements in your handbook because if left unfulfilled, those promises could be used against you in a lawsuit.
Making sure you follow the policies and procedures outlined in your employee handbook is critical. Routinely adhering to your handbook will be one of your best defenses. However, the opposite is also true. If you have several rules that you don’t follow, your current or former employees can use them against you. Regulations that you seldom enforce or frequently change should be omitted from your handbook to safeguard your organization.
It’s impossible to cover every workplace situation in your handbook because additional issues will always occur after you finalize it, so keep your policies appropriately flexible. Additionally, putting a statement in your handbook explaining that the document is not a complete collection of company policies and that your company reserves the right to change any policy is suggested.
If you have questions or would like your company handbook reviewed, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.
Photo Source: West Point Public Affairs