Employee Handbooks: Key Elements

by | 4 Oct, 2018

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Employee handbooks are important and beneficial for companies of all sizes, but the process of developing an employee handbook can be challenging. The employee handbook must be tailored to the company while also remaining legally compliant, clear, concise, and up-to-date. To make it a bit easier, here is a key checklist of elements that every employee handbook should contain:

Employment Classifications: This section should clearly define the distinction between full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. It should also make the distinction between exempt (salaried) workers and non-exempt (hourly) workers.

Employment Policies: This section should cover the range of employment policies that are in place, and will likely be one of the largest sections. Policies to include are the process for company communications, the process for promotions, the company’s stance on outside employment, the policy on drug testing, attendance and timekeeping policies, the dress code policy, the equipment and supplies policy, and more.

Security. This section involves the security of employees while working on site, and should include information on topics such as necessary identification or security badges needed to enter the workplace, company locks and lockers, video surveillance, theft and penalty for theft, and more.

Harassment. This section should include an anti-harassment statement, and should define various forms of harassment that will not be tolerated in the workplace. This section should clearly spell out how to file a harassment claim, and what a harassment investigation entails, including disciplinary action.

Compensation. This section should detail various topics concerning pay, including what pay period will be used, pay increase schedules, overtime pay, and what to do if there is an error in pay.

Unpaid leaves of absence. This section should cover information about various types of unpaid leaves of absence, including family and medical leave, disability leave, election day, military reserves or national guard, and personal leave.

Compensatory benefits. This section should cover the various compensatory benefits that the company offers, including holidays, paid personal days, paid time off, bereavement pay, jury duty, 401k, and expense reimbursement.

Other benefits. This section should cover the benefits not included in the compensatory benefits section, including employee assistance programs, fitness center access or discounts, credit union membership, direct deposit, and more.

Insurance coverage. This section should cover the insurance coverage that employees can expect to receive, including group insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and beyond. It should cover the steps for gaining access to these benefits, as well as how the process of the termination of said benefits works.

Termination. This section should cover the process of employee termination, including information about the steps of formal resignation, the exit interview, and COBRA Continuation Health Coverage.

While this list reflects the key elements that every employee handbook should include, it does not mean that the employee handbook of every company will look the same. Employee handbooks must be tailored to the specific company culture and policies of each employer. In addition, each company must craft an employee handbook that is legally compliant with the unique local and state laws in place, while also maintaining compliance with federal laws, all of which are frequently changing.

This post is part of a series on employee handbooks. Check out the other posts in the series:

Employee Handbooks: Are They Considered Contracts?

Employee Handbooks: Non-compete and Non-disclosure Agreements

Employee Handbooks: Making Updates

Leah Bury
Leah Bury was former Marketing Manager at Navigate PEO, and holds a BS from Northeastern University. She contributed pieces and HR tips and created The Compass, our monthly newsletter!

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