It's important for your employee handbook to clearly and accurately describe the employee benefits that are available to employees. Equally important is explaining any eligibility requirements, and the processes to use them. Keep in mind some leave is optional (think paid holidays) and some leave is mandated by federal or state laws (think FMLA).
Clearly explaining benefits can help employees understand their total compensation package, eliminate friction, and keep employers on the right side of the law. We’ll describe policies for these policy topics:
Companies need to give themselves room to make changes to their benefits policies over time. It’s also important to state explicitly that not all benefits are fully described in the employee handbook (this is particularly true for health insurance, retirement plans, and other complex benefits packages). The Benefits Overview is a great place to state this.
This handbook contains descriptions of some of our current employee benefits. Many of the company’s benefit plans are described in more formal plan documents available from the Human Resources Manager. In the event of any inconsistencies between this handbook or any other oral or written description of benefits and a formal plan document, the formal plan document will govern.
The information presented here is intended to serve only as an overview. The details of specific benefit plans are available from the Human Resources Manager. Although [Company name] plans to maintain these employee benefits, it reserves the right to modify, amend or terminate these benefits at any time and for any reason.
If your company provides paid time off for holidays, you should list them in the handbook. This clarifies which days are or are not offered as paid holidays. Here's an example of a paid holidays policy:
[Company name] observes the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Easter, Juneteenth, Independence Day (4th of July), Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day Holidays are observed on a paid basis for all eligible employees. Full-time employees are eligible for paid holiday benefits.
There are many states and cities that have specific rules about jury duty, including how the summoned employee should be compensated (if at all), and for how long. The best way to handle this is to refer to our state-by-state guide.
If your company offers paid health insurance, you’ll want to provide an overview of how enrollment works. Note that there aren’t typically a lot of details about health insurance coverage provided in the employee handbook. These details change frequently and it’s better to refer employees to the policy documents.
[COMPANY NAME] makes group health benefits available to eligible full-time employees and their family members. Upon becoming eligible to participate in these plans, you will receive additional information about plan benefits and enrollment. If you have questions about our insurance programs, please contact the Human Resources Manager. COBRA Continuation of Health Benefits: Under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a qualified employee who terminates employment (for reasons other than gross misconduct on the employee's part) or who loses health and dental coverage due to a reduction in work hours may temporarily continue group health and dental coverage for themselves, their spouse, and any covered dependent children at the full premium rate plus administrative fees. That eligibility normally extends for a period of eighteen (18) months from the qualifying date. For more information regarding COBRA health insurance benefits, see the Human Resources Manager.
There is a trend of employers offering a paid time off (PTO) policy over a sick leave policy. The primary distinction is that PTO policies typically don’t specify how the leave should be used. We’ve included a short sick leave policy below that you can adapt, however, be aware that many states and cities require paid sick leave policies. Please refer to our state-by-state guide.
Situations may arise where an employee needs to take time off to address medical or other health concerns. The company requests that employees provide notification to their supervisor as soon as practicable when taking time off. Sick days are granted on a paid basis to regular employees and may be evaluated for leave eligibility. Additional state-specific policies may apply.
Similar to jury duty, many states have a voting leave policy. Some states require this time to be paid, but most don’t. You can refer to our state-by-state guide.
[Company name] understands that it is the obligation of all U.S. citizens to serve on a jury when summoned to do so. All employees will be allowed time off to perform such civic service as required by law.
It is the policy of the company to comply with all federal and state rules and regulations regarding jury service. Employees who are selected for jury duty must provide a copy of their jury summons to their supervisor.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law in the United States that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain medical and family reasons. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees and requires them to provide job protection and continued health insurance coverage for employees who take FMLA leave. Eligible employees can take FMLA leave for reasons such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or their own serious health condition. The FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities while protecting their job security and health insurance coverage.
Note that some states have their own FMLA laws, which differ from this federal FMLA policy.
The company offers leave consistent with the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under the FMLA, an employee may be eligible for an unpaid family and medical leave of absence under certain circumstances, if the employee works within a seventy-five (75) mile radius of fifty (50) or more company employees.
Under the federal FMLA, a person who has worked as an employee of this company for at least 1,250 hours in the previous twelve months is eligible for FMLA leave. Up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year are available for the following reasons:
A military caregiver is eligible to take a total of 26 weeks of leave.
If the need for leave is foreseeable, employees should notify a supervisor 30 days prior to taking FMLA leave. If the need for FMLA leave arises unexpectedly, employees should notify a supervisor as soon as practicable, giving as much notice to the company as possible.
Employees may be required to provide: medical certifications supporting the need for leave if the leave is due to a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member; periodic recertification of the serious health condition; and periodic reports during the leave regarding the employee’s status and intent to return to work. Employees must return to work immediately after the serious health condition ceases, and employees who have taken leave because of their own serious health condition may be asked to submit a fitness-for-duty certification before being allowed to return to work.
Leave may be taken on an intermittent or reduced schedule to care for an illness; yet may not be taken intermittently for the care of a newborn or newly adopted child, unless that care is for a serious illness. When leave is taken intermittently, the company may transfer the employee to another position with equivalent pay and benefits, which is better suited to periods of absence.
Subject to certain conditions, the employee or the company may choose to use accrued paid leave (such as sick leave or vacation leave) concurrent with FMLA leave.
The company will maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on family and medical leave on the same terms as if the employee had continued work. If applicable, arrangements will be made for the employee to pay their share of health insurance premiums while on leave. The company may recover premiums paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from family and medical leave.
If an employee would like the company to maintain other paid benefits during the period of leave, premiums and charges which are partially or wholly paid by the employee must continue to be paid by the employee during the leave time.
Family and medical leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced. However, an employee on family and medical leave does not continue to accrue benefits (e.g., sick leave or vacation leave) during the period of family and medical leave. Questions regarding particular benefits should be directed to the Human Resources Manager.
Upon returning from FMLA leave, an employee will be restored to their original job or an equivalent job with equivalent benefits, pay, seniority, and other employment terms and conditions as provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Taking another job while on family or medical leave or any other authorized leave may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.
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