An employment manual or employee handbook as commonly referred is an essential communication resource for both the employee and the employer. The manual usually has guidance and procedures regarding the organization. The information contained in the handbook includes the values, mission, procedures, policies, and benefits of the firm. The handbook is usually an easy access guide on the management expectations and the firm’s policies and practices. It protects the employer against claims of unfair treatment or discrimination. It also ensures that employees know what is expected of them and what they can expect from the employer.
Below are the steps followed when developing an employee manual:
Review and Revise the Current Firm Policies and Procedures
The organization policies and procedures are the main resources used to come up with the employee handbook. Employers should consider the common practices of the workplace and the policies in place. If the policies need to be updated or developed, the employer should do so and seek the guidance of a lawyer. The employer should also consider the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) guidance and rules pertaining to employee manuals and ensure that the handbook policies and procedures protect the organization while not impeding on the protected rights of the employee.
Come Up With an Outline Of What Is To Be Part of the Handbook
Some of the essential topics that should be part of the manual include:
- The employer mission statement
- Contractual disclaimer and At-Will employment statement
- Equal employment opportunity statement
- Background information on the organization
- Purpose of the manual
The employer can decide to include additional information. The employer should also consider the state and federal laws that affect employees and tell the HR to include them in the manual so that the employees can understand and comply with them too.
Come Up With a Summary
The employee manual should have a summarized version of the procedures and policies. It is important to include the summary of each procedure and policy. The language in the summary should be easy to read with no legal jargon for easy understanding.
Put the Summary Statement in the Required Sections
After HR completes the outline and the summaries, the next step is to provide the organization rules, position or policies under the topics outlined.
Review the Handbook
Reviewing the handbook is important to ensure the manual has no errors and the information is easy to understand. The review can be done by a review team together with the HR.
Seek Legal Counsel for a Final Review
Legal counsel will ensure that the manual has no statement that can create contractual problems. The lawyer will also give the go-ahead for the manual to be published or give guidance on corrections to be done.
Publication of the Handbook
The employer should choose a vendor who can publish the handbook in the needed size and style. The vendor can help format the handbook to the required style. Once the handbook is formatted, there should be a final review and approval by the management before the handbook is printed.
Distribution of the Handbook
After the handbooks are published, the employer needs to decide on a method of distribution. Some employers prefer to give the employee manual to employees during the hiring process while others will manually distribute them to the employees. Others also email or use their websites to post the handbook electronically.
If as an employer you choose to use the electronic means, it is important to make the handbook physically available for those employees who might not have access to the internet or in case an employee requests for a manual version of the handbook. In case of any changes in the handbook, the employer should not forget to notify the employees physically, via email or electronically.
There should be a designated person charged with updating the employee manual in case there are changes in employment rules or laws or changes in policies or procedures. The changes should be communicated to the employees in time. It is also essential to conduct periodic review of the handbook maybe annually or after every two years to make sure that changes in rules, laws, and policies have not been overlooked and that the handbook is still relevant.
Legal Issues Regarding an Employment Manual
Employees should be provided with the manual, and they are expected to read it and be familiar with its contents. It is important for the employer to ask for a signed written acknowledgment or statement from the employee as a confirmation that they have received, read and understood the contents of the manual. The statement should be safely kept by the employer.
Additionally, the statement should have a disclaimer that the manual contains policies and procedures of the organization and the manual is not a contract of employment. The manual should not be construed in such a way that it affects the At-Will nature of employment.
The manual should also reserve the right for the employer to change its contents with or without notice. However, smart employers do not change the procedures or policies in the manual before giving a notice to their employees to keep employees motivated.
It is important to have your organization’s handbook reviewed by a qualified attorney to protect the organization’s interests and ensure the handbook does not negatively affect the rights of the employees. In case you need the help of an attorney to review your organization handbook, or you are in need of counsel regarding this matter contact RunRex.com for the best legal services in this area.