HR & Employment Law Insights

Helping family businesses, start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and other growing or established businesses throughout the UK make sense of HR and Employment Law challenges.

8 Employee Handbook Tips

Your employee handbook is more than a resource employees will leave on their desks for years to come. It’s more than a recitation of basic employee rights and responsibilities too. In fact, it’s also a way to set forth your policies and expectations. 

 Most generic handbooks include:

  • Vision and mission statements;
  • Organisational structure information;
  • Attendance and time-off policies;
  • Prohibitions against harassment and discrimination;
  • Disciplinary procedures;
  • Other necessary policies, such as social media use, software provisions, and others (pursuant to your organisational needs)

However, these generic structures don’t encompass the best practices you should rely on to craft your employee handbook. Of course, many are necessary. But when you want to ensure your handbook is doing everything it should be, following the tips below is a great way to get started.

1. Create an Acknowledgement Statement

Having employees acknowledge – by signing and dating – that they’ve read the handbook, you can prevent future problems where employees claim they haven’t actually read the book. Your statement should clarify that the signature is an acknowledgement that the employee has read and understood the policies.

When you update your handbook, you should require the same signature and dating procedure.

2. Be Prepared to Enforce Your Policies

If you don’t enforce the policies in your employee handbook, employees aren’t likely to follow the provisions. As such, it’s important that your management staff is familiar with the handbook and are able to readily identify policy violations that should turn into disciplinary action.

Some policies come with a legal obligation for enforcement. As such, you must follow your own policies or face potential consequences.

3. Compliance is Key

Because employees will look for reasons to avoid handbook enforcement, it’s vital that yours is compliant with all relevant laws. This means you must carefully choose your wording and otherwise protect your organisation from potential lawsuits due to careless noncompliance.

4. Promote Easy Access to the Handbook

While it’s simple to distribute a handbook when you first hire an employee, distributing subsequent versions is often a practice employer take more lightly. However, it’s best for you to create a distribution practice and remain vigilant to ensure all employees know when a new handbook is available and sign the statement and date acknowledging the new policies.

5. Give Yourself the Power to Make Changes

You should always reserve the right to make future changes at some point in the handbook. Doing so, and allowing yourself to do so with or without notice, is a simple way to make changes as you see fit without facing undue restrictions.

7. Don’t Put Everything in the Handbook

If there’s too much information in the handbook, employees are unlikely to read it and even more unlikely to follow the policies as a result. For longer topics, it’s best to outline information in another format or location and provide the information to access the additional policies in your handbook.

For example, you may not need every element of your retirement plan in the handbook. Instead, outline this in a separate document and distribute it accordingly. This makes the handbook less cumbersome and a much more valuable resource to employees.

8. Consistency is Important

Use the same terms throughout the handbook and the simplest language possible to avoid confusion. This will ensure that every employee, regardless of their experience or knowledge, can understand what is expected of them.

Have the Handbook Reviewed

Getting the handbook reviewed by an attorney skilled in employment law is important. Moreover, you may want to create the book with an attorney or other individual skilled in employment law, such as the team at The HR Booth.

Our company has drafted, refined, and revised thousands of employee handbooks. As such, we have the experience and expertise necessary to ensure your book serves a unique purpose for your organisation and is actually used.

To learn more about our employee handbook services or other HR offerings, contact our team on 01383 427325. We look forward to speaking with you about your current handbook and revision needs or beginning from scratch with a new book altogether.