Important Points to
employee handbook serves as a guide for managers and employees
alike. It can help avoid conflict when specific situations
arise and head off potential problems before they happen. A
good handbook can also create an incentive for employees to
make a long-term commitment to your company.
following list includes 12 major topics
Scope of duties and
hours. Distinguish between clerical and other
positions. For non-professional staff, state normal office
hours (such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and note lunch and break
Describe your policy for misuse of company property, such as
computers, fax machines, copiers, telephones and online
services. For example, what is your policy on personal e-mail
and what are the consequences for violating it?
Overtime. Under federal and local laws, payment for overtime is
mandatory for some employees. In certain limited situations,
"comp" time may be provided in lieu of cash overtime payments.
Describe these situations.
Sick leave. State the maximum time permitted (with and without
pay), the rate of accrual and eligibility. Also cover the
effect of unused sick leave — for example, if any portion
carries over to the next year or if unused sick leave results
in a bonus.
vacation. List the federal and local holidays that
your company observes. Address how much vacation is permitted,
when an employee is eligible, the accrual rate, and whether
any portion carries over to the next year. Also cover how
vacation increases for additional years of service and whether
the employee is entitled to payment for unused vacation time
Sexual harassment and
discrimination. Clearly state that your company
will not tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination based on
race, religion or national policy. Instruct employees to
report violations immediately.
Describe what constitutes a part-time employee and how this
This is usually addressed in a separate document with only a
cross-reference in the employee handbook.
group term life, health, and other insurance benefits that are
available. List any cost to employees. Address how claims are
processed and who is responsible for handling questions in the
organization. Obviously, the nature of insurance options and
coverage depends on the cost and extent of coverage. However,
it is appropriate to include a general outline of the process,
with qualifications for changes.
Leave. State the
amount of time permitted for maternity and paternity leave
with pay and without pay. Address how leave for adoptions is
treated. What about family medical leave? (Make sure your
policies comply with legislation that requires leave in
certain circumstances.) Also include your policy on military
leave, disability and jury duty.
Smoking and drug policies.
State your company’s smoking and drug policy. On
the subject of drugs, mention whether all applicants are
tested and if random tests and searches are permitted for
cause. In addition, address whether the employer pays for drug
testing and if there is a rehabilitation policy. Special care
must be taken in articulating these provisions to avoid legal
provisions. Clarify the circumstances that lead to
termination. Clearly state that employment is "at will" and
may be terminated at any time by the employer with or without
cause. Notice periods for terminations should be stated. Any
payment upon termination should also be stated. Other
possible issues: Is severance paid based on years of
service or some other standard? Also describe procedures for
exit interviews or any appeals.