Your Employee Handbook is Absolutely a Legal Document
As a business owner, you most likely already have considered setting up policies for your staff. In fact, you plan on putting an employee handbook together as a set of rules. Nevertheless, there is a chance that what seems so clear to you, could be used against your company. All things considered, an employee handbook is a legal document.
To begin with, there is the issue of the language used within the contents of any written document. Additionally, there is another consideration. If you fail to address particular problems, you could encounter legal issues. Meanwhile, you also need a policy in place regarding dissemination and acknowledgment of the employee handbook.
The bottom line is that many employment policies are subject to both state and federal law. When you commit company rules and regulations to paper, you need to ensure you have consulted with an attorney who understands both business and employment law.
Contents of an Employee Handbook
If you’re a start-up, you should consider assembling the contents of your employee handbook when you first open shop. If you have some ideas, there’s no problem with putting together a draft copy. Notwithstanding, you should still make sure your lawyer reviews your work. At the very least, there are some ideas to include as a part of every company’s policy manual:
- Identity of the company, its subsidiaries, and nature of the business
- Confirmation that business is an equal opportunity employer
- Disclaimers concerning at-will employment
- Company’s policy regarding harassment and discrimination
- Compensation schedule
- Privacy concerns and protection of trade secrets
- Disciplinary actions
- Termination policies
Meanwhile, you may want to express other policies in your company’s employee handbook. For example, do you feel it is necessary to document a social media policy? This may be critical to protecting your brand’s presence online. For example of a large company’s social media guidelines, you may want to look at what the Adidas Group expects from their employees.
In many cases, an employee policy manual will also designate how disputes are handled. This could mean an internal resolution process followed by arbitration.
Existing Employee Policies
No matter how old your company is, there’s a chance that your employee policies are outdated. There is likely a concern as to whether the employee handbook is considered legally binding.
Some existing employee manuals may contain non-compete or confidentiality clauses. When it comes to enforcement, one of the questions could be if the employee handbook constitutes an employment agreement.
Without question, it makes sense to check with legal counsel concerning review or creation of any and all employment policies.