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The Most Important Policies for Your Employee Handbook

Can you remember your first day on the job fresh out of college? Were you taking the first step toward a lifelong career or discovering your true passion? Were you excited to make a strong impression at your new place of work? Starting a new job is a thrilling experience that comes with some uncertainty about how you can succeed. In many cases, an employee handbook is essential in helping fresh hires adjust to their new roles.

Companies of all sizes print handbooks. Although no company is legally required to make them available, 87% of businesses with 10 to 200 employees rely on them to record pertinent information. Your company’s handbook can hold valuable knowledge about employment practices and laws all employees must follow. If you’re unsure about what to include in your manual, read on to learn about the most critical components.

Welcoming New Employees to the Team

Most businesses depend on well-written employee handbooks to guide newly-hired employees through company policies and procedures. Your handbook should include a chapter on joining the team. This section may consist of essential policies like:

  • At-will Employment
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Non-compete Agreement

You may also wish to include basic company information, such as:

  • The company’s address and directions to the office
  • The structure of the team
  • Key members’ contact information

New hires often have many questions as they learn how your company runs differently from other places they’ve worked. This section should direct them to where they may find answers to those questions and provide clues about your company culture.

Company Code of Conduct

Are employees at your company required to dress a certain way? What discipline might they face if they harass a coworker or test positive for drugs? A useful employee handbook saves room for the company’s code of conduct. 

A code of conduct is crucial to making sure your employees understand boundaries and can help them work better as a team. Most companies have rules about how employees can behave in the workplace. Examples of policies that shape conduct may include:

  • The company’s dress code
  • Anti-discrimination policies
  • Anti-harassment policies
  • Drug-free policies
  • Information about potential disciplinary action

Describing the Office Environment in Your Employee Handbook

Not every company runs like an episode of The Office. Employees should know what day-to-day life is like to ensure they’re a good fit. The section of your handbook that covers life at the office may explain how, when, and where you expect your employees to conduct their duties.

In this chapter, be sure to include information about:

  • Hours of operation
  • Company work from home policies
  • Lunch breaks
  • Safety procedures
  • Accommodations for people with disabilities
  • Policies for using company equipment

You may also want to include information about how your employees should communicate among themselves. If your company relies on telephone, email, or instant messaging, lay out what platforms they should use to reach out to their coworkers, vendors, customers, and others whom they interact with at work.

Talking About Wages and Performance Reviews in Your Handbook

Employees should expect compensation for contributing to the success of your company. Full-time and part-time employees are likely subject to different wages and benefits. This information should be clearly laid out in this section. This section will likely be one that your employees reference most often throughout their employment.

Consider answering the following questions with this chapter:

  • What is the company’s payroll schedule?
  • What are paycheck deductions?
  • How does the company pay employees?
  • How can employees receive bonuses?
  • When and how often does the company conduct performance reviews?
  • What is expected of employees during performance reviews?
  • How can employees qualify for a promotion?
  • How could I transfer to another department or office?
  • How is my job classified?
  • What are the company’s travel and expense policies?

The more clearly you can explain the information provided in this section, the fewer questions you’ll receive from new employees about the same issues.

Employee Benefits in Your Employee Handbook

One of the most important policies you can include in your customized handbook is your employee benefits policy. If you offer benefits to part-time and/or full-time employees, this section should make it easy for them to understand what these benefits are and how they function.

A good idea may be to start with a quick guide that outlines key points like who is eligible for benefits, when they start, and the policy numbers of plans you provide. Next, describe benefits in order of the most basic benefits to the most desirable benefits. When an employee finishes reading this section, he or she should feel knowledgeable and valued. Don’t forget to include:

  • Healthcare plan, disability, life, and workers’ compensation insurance information
  • Retirement plans
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Leave policies such as parental, sick, or jury duty leave
  • Tuition assistance
  • Student loan assistance
  • Contributions to charitable donations
  • And any other unique benefits!

Perks and benefits are crucial to keeping up employee satisfaction, which boosts morale. If you feel this section may be lacking, reconsider the benefits your company offers and revise this section in a future handbook update.

Post-Employment Procedures in Your Handbook

Unfortunately, not every new hire will stay with you for the long haul. And, sometimes, it’s for the best. When it’s time to accept that an employee is moving on, whether because they chose to leave or not, they should understand what to expect in their final days.

  • Let employees know when they will receive their final paychecks
  • Describe how you conduct exit interviews
  • Explain Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) benefits for laid-off employees

Denver Employment Lawyer Helps Companies Draft Effective Handbooks

All it takes is hiring your first employee to consider drafting an employee handbook. These handbooks define the terms of employment and help employers set expectations, providing a beneficial resource for employers and employees alike. If you’re ready to draft a handbook for your company in Denver, attorney Nathan Davidovich of Davidovich Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience collaborating with businesses of all sizes.

As a Denver-based lawyer, Nathan understands the state and federal employment laws that are pertinent to businesses all across Colorado. He has more than 55 years of experience putting together clear, concise, and informative handbooks that protect employers and employees. The Davidovich Law Firm, LLC holds a 2015 Clients’ Choice Award for outstanding services and has a 100% Client Recommended Review on, the premier rating service for attorneys. Complete this contact form to discuss your employee handbook.