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What Employee Handbooks Should Have

What Employment Laws Must I Include in an Employee Handbook?

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from issuing employee handbooks, but it’s often smaller businesses that go without one. Small businesses can benefit from employee handbooks because they’re a useful tool for laying out crucial policies that staff can refer to when needed, rather than answering questions and determining solutions on a case-by-case basis. These manuals also contain valuable material about local, state, and federal employment laws that employees at all levels should be aware of.  

When crafting your employee handbook for the first time, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information you’d like to put into writing. But don’t be discouraged! The information you’ll add to your handbook will help you avoid confusion, maintain order, set expectations, and may even help you avoid litigation. A quality handbook is one that sets expectations for both employers and employees, meaning that your employees will know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you as well. These handbooks are vital for putting concerns to rest and helping new workers adjust to their environment. 

When Writing a Handbook, Don’t Forget These Employment Laws

So, are you ready to start writing? When working on your first draft, you’ll want to research local, state, and federal employment laws. Understanding these mandates thoroughly and describing them clearly is the key to a successful handbook. These laws generally describe policies like: 

  • Family and Medical Leave
  • Equal Employment and Non-Discrimination Policies
  • Worker’s Compensation Policies
  • Accommodations for People with Disabilities 
  • Military Leave Policies
  • Crime Victim Leave Policies 

Each state may have a unique version of the above policies in addition to federal laws like the Family Medical Leave Act. The U.S. Department of Labor lists facts about federal employment laws at If your business operates in multiple states, you might consider drafting a different handbook for employees in each state. 

Federal Employment Policies to Address in a Handbook

The Department of Labor administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws. Some of the most significant labor laws you may include in your handbook are: 

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most employees in the private and public sectors. The Act requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay. The Act also sets standards for employees under 18.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA regulates safety and health conditions in most private industries. The Act is enforced through workplace inspections and investigations.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow them up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the serious illness of the employee or a spouse, child, or parent.
  • The Equal Employment Act of 1972. The Act provides the EEOC authority to sue employers in federal courts when it finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, age, disability, or marital status has occurred in the workplace. The Act was added as an amendment to Title VII so it may apply to public and private employers with 15 or more employees.

Don’t Leave Out Important Info. Contact a Colorado Employment Lawyer

Creating an effective employee handbook is a vast undertaking. It may turn out to be a much more involved project than you initially anticipated. Fortunately, if you’re an employer in Colorado, you can rely on attorney Nathan Davidovich to guide you through the process, make smart suggestions, and understand exactly what laws in Colorado you must highlight in your handbook. 

Nathan Davidovich of the Davidovich Law Firm, LLC, has been helping employers create thorough, engaging, and helpful handbooks that comply with state and federal laws for more than 55 years. When you’re ready to begin your handbook journey, call (303) 825-5529 or complete our contact form.