Before we answer those questions, we should probably clarify exactly what information goes into an Employee Handbook.
Whether you call it a company manual, staff manual or employee handbook, it’s basically a document given to employees to help them understand the organisation’s policies and procedures.
Broken down into generic and specific sections, the book may cover general information about the business (history, directors, Mission Statement etc); general policies (holidays, sick leave, health and safety, grievance procedures etc), and more specific policies (company rules, employment terms, expenses, use of company equipment/vehicles etc).
What Does The Law Say?
A copy of the handbook should be given to any new staff member upon arrival, with an opportunity to ask questions if needed. It’s a good idea to get the employee to sign a form, acknowledging that this has taken place.
So, back to our original questions: does your business have an employer handbook, and do you need one?
There’s no law or rule that says you have to have one. However, for the small investment of time and money needed, it could be worth its weight in gold!
As well as being a useful tool to welcome and inform a new staff member, it also provides written clarification of what’s expected – and what is unacceptable. With your policies laid out in black and white, you will find it much easier to deal with tricky situations when they arise.
For example, let’s say your handbook says company vehicles are not for private use. Next time a staff member decides to take his mates off-roading in one, you have grounds for disciplinary action. If the staff member says he didn’t know it was against the rules, you simply show him his signed acknowledgement form. That may be a minor incident, but an employee handbook makes it all very simple and straightforward. The expectations are there in black and white.
Avoid Expensive Litigation
Companies pay out millions of dollars in settlements to former employees every year. The most common reasons are wrongful dismissal, employee conduct, and misuse of company information. Much of this could be avoided if the company had an up-to-date and comprehensive staff handbook.
Of course, some of this would be covered in the employment contract but, by including it in the handbook, it could prove company rule if legal action took place.
Do YOU Need One?
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