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By Sanjeev Kumar
Founding Attorney

Sometimes there are business formalities that should be observed despite there being no legal obligation to do so. This is true, for instance, with employee handbooks. While there is no legal requirement for a business to develop and distribute an employee handbook, it can have huge benefits for your company, including protecting it from legal trouble down the road. Employee handbooks, when properly executed, can set and manage expectations of employees, clarify company policies and procedures, and address how conflicts should be resolved should they arise.

Considerations When Developing Your Employee Handbook

When developing your employee handbook, there are a number of provisions you should consider including. With each provision, there will be a variety of other considerations you should account for. Here are some of the basic elements that should be considered for inclusion in your company handbook:

  • Company overview: Kick off your handbook with a defined statement embodying the goals and mission of the company. This can unify your employees and give them a clear perspective on their common purpose.
  • Purpose of the handbook: Along with a bird’s eye view of the company’s purpose, you should also be clear on what the purpose of the employee handbook actually is. This may read something like it is to establish expectations as well as inform new employees of the company’s policies and procedures. It may also include a statement making it clear that the company reserves the right to have sole discretion in altering the company handbook.
  • Handbook disclaimer: It is also important to consider the potential legal ramifications the handbook may have. To manage these ramifications, you should consider including a disclaimer in the handbook itself. More specifically, you should consider including a disclaimer that the handbook is not contractual in nature. Receipt of the handbook will not have any impact on an employee’s at-will employment status. Without such a disclaimer, it may be argued that the employee handbook established contractual obligations or detailed that an at-will employee could only be terminated under certain specified circumstances.
  • Employment policies: Employment policies should be a big part of your employee handbook. What to include and how to include it, however, must be carefully considered as you will want to remain in compliance with workplace laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, there may be other considerations relating to policies such as Equal Opportunity employment, anti-discrimination policies, and anti-harassment policies, among other things.
  • Leave policies: You should be sure to cover the types of leave your company offers as well as who is eligible to take the various leave types, the duration of the different leave types, which leaves are paid and which are unpaid, and how an employee must go about getting leave approved. Types of leave offered can include sick leave and vacation leave as well as things like parental leave, grief leave, and jury duty.

Your employee handbook should also include an acknowledgement form to help ensure that every employee not only receives the handbook, but understands and agrees to the terms it sets forth.

Business Law Attorney

Employee handbooks are important and it is important that they are done right while observing the relevant laws. For a comprehensive employee handbook that can set a firm foundation for your company, you can count on The Kumar Law Firm. Contact us today.

About the Author
Sanjeev Kumar is the founder and principal at the Kumar Law Firm, which provides a wide range of legal services to entrepreneurs and business owners in the area of business & corporate law and intellectual property along with related areas of interest to clients such as business succession planning, wealth preservation through estate planning, and alternate dispute resolution.