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Setting Expectations: Why Your Company Needs an Employee Handbook

By: Alina Pargamanik, J.D.


You have recruited the “ideal” employee to meet your staffing needs. He/she was thrilled to accept your job offer. What happens when it is the employee’s first day of employment and your company has no employee handbook to offer? No expectations, no rules, no formality, the list goes on… In order to avoid these issues, every company should have a well-drafted employee handbook in place and enforced.


What is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook does not have to solely consist of a list of rules and procedures for employees to follow. An employee handbook offers employees a clear outline of your company’s history, mission, values, benefits, and, of course, policies and procedures. A well-drafted employee handbook should, at minimum, include policies for the following: harassment, discrimination, discipline for policy violations, social media, compensation/leave, standards of conduct, and privacy/confidentiality. It is also important for the employee handbook to discuss the company’s employee benefits such as 401(k) plans or health plans. The employee benefits policy/provision should encourage employees to review any documents related to employee benefits plans, such as summary plan descriptions.


When distributing an employee handbook to employees, it is important to have the employee(s) sign a statement acknowledging that they have received, reviewed and agree to the policies set forth in the employee handbook. It is also crucial for employers to regularly review the employee handbook to ensure that all policies and procedures align with the company’s standards and comply with any changes in federal or state law. At minimum, employers should review their company’s employee handbook annually. The handbook should be updated as needed, with all changes being communicated promptly to employees.


Examples of Employee Handbook Provisions

Below is a list of provisions that you should consider incorporating in your company’s employee handbook:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

  • Anti-Harassment Policy

  • Anti-Retaliation Policy

  • Disability Accommodations Policy

  • Religious Accommodations Policy

  • Payroll/Compensation Policy

  • Paid Time Off/Sick Leave/Jury Duty Leave Policy

  • Family and Medical Leave Policy

  • Travel and Business Expense Reimbursement Policy

  • Tuition Reimbursement Policy

  • Attendance Policy

  • Standards of Conduct Policy

  • Performance Review Policy

  • Dress Code Policy

  • Social Media Use Policy

  • Remote Work Policy

  • Smoke-Free/Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Each company should assess which policies should be included in its employee handbook on an individual basis. The list above is not all-encompassing, so it is important to discuss which policies your company should have in place with an employment attorney.


The Importance of Having an Employee Handbook

A well-drafted employee handbook protects both the employer and the employee. From the employer’s perspective, the handbook may be used as protection against discrimination or unfair treatment claims. The handbook is also a very valuable tool for setting expectations and communicating company policies and practices.


An employee handbook can also serve as an important defense tool for employers in the case of litigation. A handbook can serve as valuable evidence in court to show that the employer was not discriminating against or retaliating against an employee. For employees, an employee handbook could also prove that the employer is not acting in compliance with its own policies and procedures.


If your company or organization needs assistance in drafting or reviewing an employee handbook, please contact Batoff Associates. P.A. at 410-864-6211.

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