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Does Your Workplace Need an Employee Handbook?

Posted by: rlaccmarcom on Monday, January 27, 2014
By: Janine Springer, IOM
Chief Financial Officer
Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

Do you and your employees a favor – create an Employee Handbook
Nothing builds ill will or decreases morale in a workplace than treating each employee differently on the same issue.  Well, you say, each employee has a different story as to why they need you to treat them special.  While that may be true, having the company policy in writing will ensure you treat everyone fairly.

Employee handbooks not only help the employee better understand the company and how they want their employees to conduct themselves in the workplace, but they potentially could keep you, the business owner, from an employee lawsuit in the future. 

Employee handbooks should include an introduction page that explains the company’s history and business culture.  Other items that should be included are:  Hours – do you have full time and part time employees?  How is overtime calculated?  Who is entitled to overtime?  Pay and Salaries – how do you set pay and raises?  Do you have a bonus program and if so, how does it work?  Benefits – explain vacation pay, sick pay, unpaid leave, etc.  Do you have medical and dental benefits? Retirement benefits?  Drug and Alcohol Abuse – Do you require drug testing?  Do you have a policy prohibiting employees from using drugs and alcohol in the workplace?  Do you offer help for employees with drug and alcohol related issues?  Harassment – Remind employees that any form of harassment is illegal and you take it seriously.  Specify how and to whom employees can make complaints, what procedures should be followed, how the complaint is investigated, and what actions will be taken against harassers.  Attendance – Explain what happens if there are numerous unexplained absences or repeated tardiness.  What are the normal business hours? Discipline – What types of conduct can get employees into trouble?  What are the steps for disciplining employees?  Employee Safety – Do employees know they need to follow safety rules and report any unsafe conditions?  Smoking – Do you have a written policy for on-the-job smoking?  Are your rules in compliance with your state law?  Complaints  - do you have a procedure in place for employee complaints?  Who receives complaints?  Who enforces the complaint procedure?  Electronic Communications – Do you have a policy on use of email?  The internet?  Social networking sites?  Blogs?  Workplace Civility – State how employees are to act toward each other

This listing is in no way all inclusive; you cannot possibly cover every possible workplace situation that could arise and you should state this in your handbook as well. 

Writing an employee handbook can seem like a daunting task and very time-consuming but there are easy (and free) ways to get it written.  Many corporate benefit companies have free online HR help that includes forms, legal guidelines, employer mandatory posters, and generic handbook samples that you can quickly modify with your information/logos, etc for a simple and easy employee handbook! 

The chamber has several members who offer corporate benefits (look in our Small Business Toolkit at http://www.rogerslowell.com/live_and_work/small_business_toolkit.aspx) and would be a great place to start your search for getting help in creating your employee handbook.  You and your employees will feel better knowing what the written rules are in the workplace. 


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