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Employee Life Cycle Part 7: Employee Handbook Policy

An employee handbook can help you communicate key workplace policies and expectations. Paychex HR consultant Margie Bassford provides information on some areas and company policies that you may want to consider including in yours.


Discover more about the employee life cycle:

Part 1: Paying Employees

Part 2: Proper Employee Documentation

Part 3: Human Rights & Discrimination Laws

Part 4: Paid Time Off

Part 5: Employee Behavior & Performance

Part 6: Workplace Safety

Part 8: Employee Discipline & Termination

Part 9: Attracting & Retaining Talent

Part 10: Deepening Employee Engagement


Key workplace policies and expectations need to be communicated to employees. An effective way to do this is through an employee handbook. A handbook offers an appropriate way you can clearly and concisely communicate your non-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, expectations regarding standards of conduct, basic benefits information, safety considerations, and appropriate disclaimer language. You may even want to include policies for some less obvious areas such as social media use, or what to do in case of severe weather.

Your employee handbook should be written in consideration of applicable federal and state, and in some cases, local employment laws. At the federal level, that will include, but is not limited to, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the state and local level, you may need to include policies on mandated leave laws and pay practices.

It's also a best practice to include policies such as the safe use of equipment and vehicles, proper handling of materials, the wearing of safety apparel, and other workplace safety requirements enforced by OSHA. Once policies are put into writing, you and your managers are responsible for ensuring proper implementation and enforcement.

Employee-initiated lawsuits can arise when employees aren't all held to the same standards of conduct. If you make exceptions to the rules for a favored employee, or if you single out someone you don't like, you leave the business vulnerable to allegations of discrimination.

Once employee handbooks have been provided to employees, consider having them sign a receipt or acknowledgement confirming they have read and understand the company policies.

Perhaps as important as creating the employee handbook is updating it regularly. That is why many businesses choose to outsource this function so that their handbook is a living, breathing document that reflects current and applicable laws and regulations related to employment, technology, and the business itself, including its size, and where employees physically work.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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