November 25, 2020 is a daily online magazine covering small business news. We help entrepreneurs transform ideas and innovations into greatness.

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Employee Handbooks


Developing an Employee Handbook for Your Business

An employee handbook is a must-have for every business. Formally writing down your policies in an employee handbook can help your business to run more smoothly. Plus, it could keep you out of court.

An employee handbook can make managing employees easier. Relying on verbal communication can give rise to confusion, conflict, and charges of discrimination or unfair treatment. A good handbook provides consistency and accuracy in dealing with employees by spelling out company expectations, employee benefits, rules, policies, and procedures.
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Developing a handbook doesn't have to be costly. One suggestion is to draft it yourself and pass it by your lawyer for review. It is important to ensure that the handbook is worded correctly and that it protects you legally. Many lawsuits occur because companies can't document the consistent use of policies.

Your handbook could include:

  • General operating policies: hours, opening and closing procedures, meals and breaks, smoking/non-smoking rules, customer service, telephone procedures, dress code, health and safety regulations, etc.
  • Equal opportunity workplace, sexual harassment policy, drug and alcohol policy, work environment
  • How the organization is structured, job descriptions, salary and performance reviews, promotions
  • Overtime and comp time
  • How health and sick time are earned; how they are to be used
  • Personal days/time, family illness or emergency
  • Health, dental, life insurance, disability benefits
  • Maternity policy
  • Pension plan, profit-sharing, bonuses
  • Other fringe benefits, i.e. employee discount, parking, etc.
  • Other rules or regulations, as appropriate

Write your handbook in simple, plain language. Be concise yet thorough. When you give out the handbook, have your employee sign a form stating that they have received and understood company policies. Give one copy to the employee and keep the other in his or her file.

A comprehensive outline of an employee handbook can be found on line at

2002 NHSBDC. Reprinted with permission.

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