A Guide to Employee Handbooks – What You Need to Know

A handbook should be available for every member of staff.

It is often the only literature given to personnel. Whether in a book format, or as a set of documents, this information can prove vital in protecting your business.

Is it a legal requirement to issue a handbook?

All new employees should be given a ‘handbook’, which sets out the practises and procedures that your company follows. This is in addition to the employee’s contract of employment.

What should the handbook include?

Just as every business is different, so is the contents of the employee handbook. As a general rule, the contents would almost certainly cover topics such as:

  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Sickness absence policies
  • Grievance and harassment
  • Equal opportunities
  • Capability procedures

Equally, as technologies and environmental changes evolve, so should the handbook. It may be necessary to cover the following issues too:

  • Alcohol and drugs policies – include in your documentation how and when random drugs tests may be carried out and indeed the consequences of failing a test.
  • Email, social media and internet usage – reiterate how your company equipment should be used and for what purpose. Don’t forget to include how you will monitor the usage and ultimately the consequences of misuse.

You cannot simply issue a change to the contractual terms of a policy.

A change which is seen to benefit the employee is likely to have little or no objections. One that could be construed as having a negative effect may have to go through a consultation period. Either way, when issuing an addendum or change to a policy, it is in your interest to stipulate an employee’s signature as receipt of recognition.

Are they really beneficial?

Fundamentally, handbooks give each and every employee a set of written rules under which they are required to work to.

As long as the consequences are clearly detailed, each employee will know of the outcome should an incident occur!

Introducing a handbook?

Whilst there are many templates readily available on-line, it is crucial that you tailor your handbook to complement your business. Disciplinary procedures vary across industries, and to some extent you can set the rules… After all, this is your business! Ultimately you have the overall say in what you believe to be acceptable and unacceptable and should adapt it to take this into account.

Issuing a handbook to staff…

Be transparent! Existing employees may be hostile or even anxious when given their first handbook – no-one likes change! As long as the handbook isn’t changing any rules, then simple and open communication should be all that is required. Be sure to re-iterate that you issuing a handbook to give your employees protection. New staff should have no qualms about receiving one… And if it isn’t something that they are used to having, upon receiving one will only re-iterate to them what a professional establishment they have moved to!

Ultimately, it is in your company’s interest to have an up to date and factually correct employee handbook.

Equally HR and the minefield that accompanies it can be somewhat daunting!

If you would like a handbook written on behalf of your company, or indeed perhaps you’d like yours proof read for correct factual content, please do get in touch…

Simply call 0121 516 0299 or email info@cloverhr.co.uk.

We would be only too happy to help…


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