One of the most vital communication tools between an employer and an employees is the employee handbook. Although this document may go by other names, in all cases its purpose is to guide an employee’s actions in the workplace and set clear expectations regarding the relationship between a company and the people it employs, including a clear outline of company policies and procedures, benefits, working conditions.
Why Are Employee Handbooks Important to a Business?
The relationship between an employer and its employee is a reciprocal one. It involves both parties knowing exactly what is expected from them without there being any misunderstandings or misstatements. That is the critical role that an employee handbook plays. It can also help avoid any legal liabilities for a business. In some legal disputes, courts have considered an employee handbook as a contractual obligation between both parties.
What Should Be in an Employee Handbook?
Although every business is different and will require company-specific information, there are some policies and key pieces of information that an employee handbook should cover, including:
- General information
- A brief history of the company, including mission and vision statements
- Information regarding vacation and time-off policies
- Performance review policy
- Workplace health and safety policy
- Dress codes
- Bullying and harassment policy
- Prevention of workplace violence
- Computer, social media, and internet policy
- Hiring policy
- Other various policies required by local, provincial, or federal laws.
An employee handbook is an essential resource to all employees but is especially useful to orient new hires into the company.
Employer and Employee Responsibilities
Like any business relationship, both parties need to understand the role that they are required to play when it comes to having a successful work environment.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all employees are granted access to an employee handbook and understand the information contained within. Most employers provide an online copy for employees to access. Employers also need to make sure that the handbook is consistently updated to meet all current and relevant laws and policies and alert all employees of any changes made to the handbook. It is wise for employers to distribute updated handbooks via email to employees and keep the email as evidence that it was provided. If a physical copy of the handbook is provided, it is important to obtain and keep a signed acknowledgement form as proof that the handbook was received.
In regard to employees, they need to read and understand all policies in the handbook, so they are fully aware of what is expected of them.
An effective employee handbook should clearly communicate all company policies in a way that is easy to read and understand. It should also reflect the culture of the business and its key values and beliefs.
HR Enable is well-versed in employee handbooks and can offer our services to help your company create or update yours. Call us today to learn more.