Policies Every Employee Handbook Should Cover

You wouldn’t expect a builder to create a structure without a blueprint. Nor would you expect your employees to succeed in their jobs without a clear picture of what you expect from them. Taking the time to ensure you’ve established a mutual understanding of expectations is actually essential if you want to employ workers who follow the rules of your establishment, get along with each other, and perform their jobs admirably.

Your employee handbook can support you in this endeavor—if you draft one that covers all the bases. Consider the following 10 policies every employee handbook should cover. Some will help your team perform at their best, while others will protect you should one of your workers ever file a claim against you.

The “At-Will” Employment Policy. This policy explains that you—or your worker—can terminate his or her employment with your company at any time and for any (lawful) reason.

The Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy. It’s important that your employee handbook takes a zero tolerance stance on discrimination and harassment. It should state that management will always take such complaints seriously and will never retaliate against the reporting parting. Don’t forget to describe options for reporting violations and consequences should an employee violate the policy.

Immigration Law Policy. Include wording in your handbook regarding your company’s commitment to only hire individuals who can legally work in the U.S. Outline the employment eligibility verification rules your organization follows.

Employment Classification Policy. Whether workers are defined as full- or part-time, exempt or nonexempt, determines their eligibility for overtime pay and some company benefits (such as employer-sponsored health insurance). Define these categories of workers within your employee handbook.

Time Off and Employee Leave Policy. Describe the rules for accruing and using vacation time and sick time. List any holidays for which your employees will receive pay. Clearly outline the steps your workers need to take to request time off as well as note whether unused time will carry over from year to year.

Meal and Break Policy. If an employee works more than a certain number of hours, employment laws dictate they must receive breaks and meal periods. Make sure your employee handbook covers these details as well as any related restrictions.

Timekeeping and Payday Policy. Your employee handbook should describe the rules and methods for recording time worked. It should also cover paydays, ways in which employees can receive their pay (check, direct deposit, etc.), and how final pay will be handled should you need to terminate an employee.

Safety Policy. Whether you’re running a small office or a large warehouse, your employee handbook should cover important safety and emergency procedures as well as the rules your workers must follow regarding reporting on-the-job injuries and accidents.

Attendance Policy. It will be difficult to reprimand an employee for tardiness, early departure or missed days of work if your employee handbook doesn’t cover your policies on attendance and punctuality. It may also be helpful to clearly define “excessive absenteeism” and the steps a worker must take to report a possible late arrival or unscheduled day away.

Employee Conduct Policy. Outline the standard of conduct you expect from your workers when it comes to drug and alcohol use/abuse, workplace violence, confidentiality, conflicts of interest and other common issues.

A comprehensive employee handbook will cover these essential topics (and more). If you’d like assistance drafting one—or want a third-party review of the employee handbook you’ve already created—we’re  here to help.