A Comprehensive Employee Handbook Can Help Prevent You from Being Sued
If you are a business owner, you know the vital importance of setting clear expectations for your employees. When a business is in its infancy and only has a small number of employees, you may be able to get away with verbally expressing rules and expectations to your workers. If you are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of your business, it is easy to keep a watchful eye on employees to ensure that they are not exposing you to any liabilities. However, as your business grows and develops, the need for a written set of guidelines and expectations becomes critical. Creating an employee handbook that states employment policies, company rules, and how workers are expected to behave at work will help prevent employee-related disputes in the future.
Why You Need an Employee Manual or Handbook
An employee handbook contains a company’s practices, policies, and the legal rights and obligations of employees and their employer. Not only can this type of handbook protect you as a business owner legally, but it can also significantly improve the work environment. Many of us have had jobs where we were unsure of our role in the company or what was expected of us. It can be confusing and disheartening to be an employee and not feel like part of the team if other employees are not on the same page as you. An employee handbook can go a long way in establishing a culture of teamwork and professionalism at your company.
What to Include in Your Employee Handbook
Local, state, and federal laws are constantly changing, so it is important that your employee handbook reflects the current labor laws applicable to your business. Handbooks should demonstrate your company values, organizational structure, policies, rules, and expectations in an easy-to-understand, concise way. Depending on the type of industry and your particular needs, you may wish to include the following items in your employee handbook:
At-will employment clause
Equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement
Sexual harassment and discrimination policies
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations
Substance-free workplace policy
Dress code policy
Conflict of interest statement
Hiring and firing policies
Expectations for workplace conduct
Performance review and discipline procedures
Full-time versus part-time work schedules and how breaks are managed
Information about payroll, overtime pay, paid time off (PTO), vacation, benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and family medical leave
Safety and security procedures
General information about the company, such as the address of the office, business hours, staff structure, and contact information
A disclaimer that the employee handbook does not represent a contract
Preventing workplace sexual harassment is an especially crucial issue in today’s society. The employee handbook should outline your company’s anti-harassment policies as well as procedures for reporting harassment or discrimination. A clear anti-sexual harassment policy is one way to help protect yourself as an employer if this type of claim is ever raised.
Contact a Stamford, CT Business Law Attorney
An employee handbook is an important document that outlines the policies and procedures for a business. It can also help protect the owner’s and the workers’ rights and responsibilities. The knowledgeable Norwalk commercial and business lawyers at the Law Offices of Peter V. Lathouris, LLC have more than 32 years of experience aggressively representing clients in business disputes and helping businesses flourish. Call us today and schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help you with all of your employment and business law needs.