It’s one of those things that businesses put off as long as they can. A good handbook is not only time-consuming to put together but must contain all the necessary information it requires. If you forget to include certain details, you could find yourself in a tricky position later on. It’s all about covering your back, as well as settling in your new employees as best you can. You can tinker around with what you include in your handbook to a certain extent, but there are a few necessities. Let’s take a look.
General Company Information
Most handbooks begin with a general blurb about the company and what it aims to achieve. This is a good way to get your new employee accustomed to the business and how it operates. You can get as extensive as you want in terms of what you include here. Normally, a bit about the company’s history is a good way to get started. Goals and the ethos of the business might come next, followed by a personal message from you directly. You can get quite creative with this.
There are a whole bunch of safety policies that you should have in place when it comes to your business. These need to be documented in the handbook. Possibly the most important of all is your health and safety policy. You must get across your stance on health and safety in the workplace, including any relevant tailored information. This is especially important for businesses that regularly work in dangerous environments. Other policies can surround workplace bullying and data protection, both of which should be included.
It’s a requirement of your handbook that you outline the disciplinary procedures properly. If you fail to do this, a disgruntled employee could later point to the handbook as an inaccurate source of information. This could then assist them when claiming in an unfair dismissal case, for example. So, every detail about disciplinary should be outlined in full. You can’t just make it up as you go along – disciplinary actions must follow strict law guidelines. An employment law specialist can help with this if you’re in any doubt.
Technology Use Policies
There was a time when technology use policies would have been laughed at. These days, they’re an essential part of your handbook’s contents. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you need to protect the business by strictly prohibiting personal internet usage on company time. You might also have rules in place surrounding company phones and laptops. Also, as mentioned earlier, data protection is yet another very important consideration. Without implementing the right policies, you could just find your data getting into the wrong hands.
This one is fairly self-explanatory, and it relates to the holiday entitlements that your employees have. Every handbook should make these allowances clear in order to prevent any confusion going forward. Obviously, you’ll need to include the set amount of holiday that employees are allowed. Then, account for any extra entitlements they might get, and who they should contact when requesting holiday. You might have to add a few tailored rules in there about holiday request timings, too.
Dress Code & Behavioural Standards
This is another necessity that you’ll find in any good handbook out there. Start with the dress code, which you’ll need to be very detailed with. You’re not running a school, but you’d be amazed at how many people dress like a teenager when given the chance! So, be clear with exactly what is expected of your employees, or you’ll have no leg to stand on when they turn up in a hoodie. Of course, behavioural standards relate to how employees should act around the business. To prevent bullying, this should be documented and incorporated into your disciplinary procedure.
This is where we get a bit more tailored, and there’s no set structure for what you need to include. However, many companies operate an overtime structure, and this might be a good time to include it. So, make it clear how much employees should be expected to make when doing overtime to avoid any grievances later. Other benefits can include discounts, memberships and bonuses, and they should all be documented. If they’re not in the book, problems can arise.
Sickness & Grievance Procedures
Every company is required to have both sickness and grievance procedures, and you’ll need to document them as well. Like disciplinary procedures, both these areas can be tricky to get your ahead around from a legal perspective. So, brush up on your knowledge before you go drafting this area of the book. If you don’t follow the law to the letter, this is yet another area where you can get bitten in the backside.
You can’t forget about this! You better believe that a new employee will skip to this section the first time they read the employee handbook. Sorry…all that effort you put into the company description will probably go unnoticed! Handbooks are rarely generated on an individual basis, so you’ll need to be generic with this. Don’t go into specific payment information, but note when employees should expect to be paid. All they want to know is when they’ll get their money, and how many deductions might be taken off it. Get all the relevant information in there.
When you’re working with confidential data, you can’t afford for your employees to go blabbering about it. This is why you need nondisclosure policies. This policy also needs to account for those that leave the company. Sometimes, a business might prevent that person from encouraging others to leave as well. Or, it might have rules about working for an opposing company and sharing secrets.
If you have any concerns when drafting your employee handbook, be sure to consult the law. As long as you’re adhering from a legal standpoint, the rest will fall into place. Now, it’s time to get down to work and put that book together!
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