2024 Template Version

Employee Handbook Template

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Employee Handbook Template
Handbook Basics

What’s the purpose of an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is an integral, but often overlooked, tool for businesses. A great handbook can be a huge help for growing businesses. A great handbook clarifies your company's norms and defines the relationship between employees and employers. An employee handbook is an important tool for ensuring consistency, fairness, and compliance with laws and regulations, as well as helping to set clear expectations for employees and providing them with the necessary information to succeed in their roles. A solid handbook will always include:

  • Employee’s rights and responsibilities
  • Company policies, rules, and standards
  • A clear explanation of benefits, including time off and other leave
  • Federal, State, and local policies for all the states where you have employees
  • Your company’s unique culture and mission
  • Handbook acknowledgments
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What should come first in an employee handbook?

An employee handbook should begin with an introduction that sets the tone for the document (and your company) and establishes the purpose and scope of the handbook. Here are some items to consider including in the first section of your handbook. Feel free to copy and paste this language into your handbook!

1. Introduction and core policies

This is where you set the stage for the employee relationship. It describes a company that is committed to great work, fairness, and a mission.  

  • Welcome and mission statements
  • Equal employment opportunity statement
  • Employment-at-will
  • Handbook disclaimer statement
  • Employment categories
  • Company mission statement
  • Introductory Period
Welcome statement

Start with a friendly welcome statement that expresses appreciation for employees and emphasizes the importance of their contributions to the company.

Here's an example of a welcome statement:

On behalf of [Company name], let us extend a warm and sincere welcome. We hope you will enjoy your work here and we are glad to have you with us. We understand that it is our employees who provide the services that our customers rely upon. We believe that each employee contributes directly to [Company name’s] growth and success.

We hope that your experience here will be challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding. We are excited to have you as part of our team!

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Equal employment opportunity statement

An Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement is a declaration made by an employer that outlines its commitment to providing equal employment opportunities to all job applicants and employees, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic.

The EEO statement typically appears in an employer's job postings, employee handbook, and other employment-related documents. The statement should be clear, concise and should communicate the employer's commitment to fair employment practices.

Here’s an example of an EEO statement:

[Company name] is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of an individual’s race, creed, gender, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law. This policy applies to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, placement, compensation, promotion, discipline, and termination.

[Company name] is committed to complying with all applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is our policy not to discriminate against any qualified employee or applicant with regard to any terms or conditions of employment because of such an individual's disability. Consistent with this policy of non-discrimination, the company will evaluate requests for accommodation via the interactive process and will provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability, as defined in the ADA, who has made the company aware of their disability, provided such accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship to the company. The company reserves the right to propose an alternative accommodation, so long as such accommodation is equally effective in accommodating the disability.

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Employment-at-will statement

Employment at will means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

This means that an employer can terminate an employee's employment for any reason that is not prohibited by law, such as discrimination based on protected characteristics like race, gender, or religion. Similarly, an employee can leave their job for any reason or no reason at all, without providing any notice to the employer.

There are some important caveats where at-will employment doesn’t apply. Union agreements, employment contracts, and some state laws create some exceptions. To stay out of hot water, it's important for both employers and employees to understand the employment-at-will relationship and how it affects their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Here’s an example of an employment-at-will policy:

Where applicable by law, employment with [Company name] may be terminated for any reason, with or without cause or notice, at any time, by you or the company. Nothing in this Employee Handbook or in any oral or written statement shall limit the right to terminate employment-at-will unless otherwise dictated by state law. Only the President of the company shall have any authority to enter into an employment agreement with any employee providing for employment other than at-will and any such agreement must be in writing.

This policy of at-will employment is the sole and entire agreement between you and [Company name] as to the duration of employment and the circumstances under which your employment may be terminated.

With the exception of employment-at-will, the terms and conditions of employment with [Company name] may be modified at the sole discretion of the company, with or without cause or notice, at any time. No implied contract concerning any employment-related decision or term or condition of employment can be established by any other statement, conduct, policy, or practice.

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Handbook Disclaimer Statement

An employee handbook disclaimer is a statement that appears in an employee handbook and clarifies that the handbook is not a contract of employment and does not create any contractual rights or obligations between the employer and the employee. The purpose of the disclaimer is to protect the employer from potential legal claims and to ensure that the handbook is not interpreted as a binding agreement.

Usually, an employee handbook disclaimer will state that the policies and procedures contained within it may be modified, revised, or eliminated at any time, without notice. The disclaimer may also indicate that the handbook does not alter the at-will nature of the employment relationship and that employment can be terminated by either the employer or the employee at any time, with or without cause.

Here’s an example of a Handbook Disclaimer Statement (sometimes titled as “About this Handbook”):

This handbook was developed to describe the policies, programs, and benefits available to eligible employees. It is important to read, understand, and comply with all provisions of the handbook.

This handbook should not be construed as an employment agreement or contract and does not guarantee any contractual rights. It’s also important to remember that this handbook provides general guidelines and that other information, such as benefit plans, will be described in other documents.

This handbook states only general company guidelines. [Company name] may, at any time, in its sole discretion, modify or vary from anything stated in this handbook, with or without notice, except for the rights of the parties to terminate employment-at-will and to the degree that such variance is compliant with all applicable federal and state laws.

This handbook supersedes and replaces any and all personnel policies and manuals previously distributed or made available to employees.

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Add a great mission statement

A good mission statement should communicate an organization's purpose, values, and goals. It should be brief enough to be easily understood and remembered, yet comprehensive enough to convey the organization's main objectives.

Here are some elements that a good mission statement can include:

  • Purpose: The statement should define the organization's reason for existing, its core business, and what the company is trying to do in the world.
  • Values: The statement should express the values and principles it believes in.
  • Target audience: The statement should identify the primary audience that the company serves.
  • Differentiation: This is optional but can be helpful to clarify your unique value.  Explain what sets the organization apart from its competitors.

Here is an example:

This mission statement reflects Patagonia's commitment to creating high-quality outdoor gear while minimizing its environmental impact. It emphasizes the company's core values of sustainability, social responsibility, and innovation, and its goal of using its business to make a positive difference in the world.

Patagonia: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
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2. Time away from work and other benefits policies

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).

  • Benefits overview
  • Paid holidays policy
  • Jury duty, voting leave, military leave
  • Vacation benefits
  • Health insurance
  • Sick leave policy
  • Family and medical leave (FMLA)

Benefits Overview Policy

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.

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Paid Holidays Policy

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.

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Jury Duty Policy

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.

Health Insurance Policy

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.

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Sick Leave Policy

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.

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Voting Leave Policy

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.

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Family and Medical Leave Act Policy (FMLA)

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: 

  • The birth of a child and care for the newborn child; 
  • Placement of a child into adoptive or foster care with the employee; 
  • Care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; or 
  • Care for the employee’s own serious health condition. 
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (defined as the nearest blood relative) who is a “covered servicemember” and who has incurred an injury or illness in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces provided that such injury or illness may render the family member medically unfit to perform duties of member’s office, grade, rank or rating. 

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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3. On-the-job practices and policies

Define your company norms and practices including payroll, timekeeping, schedules, and the nuts and bolts of day-to-day operations.

  • Health and safety policy
  • Open door policy
  • Employee introductory period
  • Payroll
  • Working schedule policy
  • Direct deposit policy
  • Company vehicles policy

Open door policy

The open door policy is important to establish a culture that promotes transparency, and speaking up when genuine concerns arise. It also helps reduce the risk that might arise if an employee raises a (potentially serious) concern to their supervisor, who then fails to take action. An open door policy gives that employee license to escalate their concern and management a chance to address the concern.

[Company name] has an open-door policy and takes employee concerns and problems seriously. The company values each employee and strives to provide a positive work experience. Every employee is encouraged to speak with their immediate supervisor at any time with questions or problems relating to the job while employed. If you are unable to satisfactorily resolve your question or problem with your supervisor, or if you prefer not to approach your supervisor with your problem or question, you can request a meeting with a manager or with the Human Resources Manager.

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Introductory period policy

Many companies choose to have an introductory period for new employees. This gives the company (and the employee) a chance to determine whether the job is a good fit for them. You can adjust the length of your introductory period.

The first 90 days of employment is an introductory period. This is an opportunity for [Company name] to evaluate your performance and suitability for the role. It also is an opportunity for you to decide whether you are happy being employed at [Company name]. The company may extend the introductory period if it desires. If at the end of the introductory period, the relationship is satisfactory to the new employee and the supervisor, the employment relationship will continue. Successfully completing the trial period doesn’t alter the employee’s at-will status.

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Employment records policy

The employment records policy exists for at least two reasons. First, it places responsibility on the employee to update the company when their address, phone number, emergency contact, or other information changes. It also helps you comply with laws requiring employees can view their personnel records. Note that there are many states that have record-keeping requirements as well. You can refer to our state-by-state guide.

In order to obtain employment, all employees provide the company with personal information such as their address and telephone number. This information is saved in the employee’s personnel records. Please inform the Human Resources Manager of any changes to personal employment information, including emergency contact. Changes to your address, marital status, etc. can affect your withholding tax and benefit coverage.

Upon written request, the company will permit employees to inspect their personnel records. Employees should contact the Human Resources Manager to schedule a time to view personnel records. Inspections will occur in the presence of a company official. If an employee disagrees with any portion of the personnel record and a correction cannot be agreed upon, the employee may submit an explanatory statement to be attached to the records. The company complies with all state and federal laws regarding employee access to employment records.

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Payroll policy

Setting clear expectations for your employees on when and how they will be paid is important for obvious reasons. Here’s an example of a payroll policy:

All employees of the company are paid [weekly]. The employer takes all reasonable steps to ensure that employees receive the correct amount of pay in each paycheck and that they are paid promptly on the scheduled payday.

By law, the company is required to make deductions for Social Security, federal income tax, and any other appropriate taxes. These required deductions may also include any court-ordered garnishments. Your payroll stub will also differentiate between regular pay received and overtime pay received. If you believe there is an error in your pay, bring the matter to the attention of the Payroll Manager immediately so that the company can resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

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Working schedule policy

This is where you establish expectations around reporting hours worked and overtime policies (if applicable).

It is the employee’s responsibility to accurately report time worked and to conform to work schedules and overtime policies in effect at the time. Work performed outside of authorized work hours may lead to disciplinary action unless approved by a supervisor in writing.

Employees will be provided with meal and rest periods as required by law. Your supervisor will provide further details.

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4. Standards of conduct

This is where employee rules and expectations should go.  There can be a lot of them, and this is an important part of any handbook.  

  • Non-harassment and non-discrimination policies
  • Sexual harassment and workplace violence policies
  • Attendance policies
  • Conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and business ethics
  • Health and safety policies
  • Work-from-home and virtual meetings policies

Non-Harassment Policy / Non-Discrimination Policy

The non-harassment and non-discrimination policies are arguably one of the most important parts of the employee handbook. It needs to be crystal clear, and explicit, and permeate the entire organization from the top down. A consistent focus on organization-wide buy-in, along with taking harassment claims seriously will go a long way to keep your company out of trouble.

[Company name] believes that each of us should be able to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. To this end, the company prohibits and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment. This policy applies equally to any form of discrimination or harassment based on any legally protected status under local, state, and/or federal law, including but not limited to sex, race, color, religion, disability, pregnancy, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Harassment is verbal or physical conduct designed to threaten, intimidate or coerce. It includes verbal taunting (including racial and ethnic slurs) which impairs an employee’s ability to perform their job. Harassment includes but is not limited to:

  • Verbal conduct such as threats, epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs
  • Visual conduct such as derogatory posters, photographs, cartoons, drawings, images, or gestures
  • Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, or blocking normal movement
  • Verbal conduct such as threats, epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs
  • Visual conduct such as derogatory posters, photographs, cartoons, drawings, or gestures; physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, or blocking normal movement.

If you feel that you have been subjected to conduct that violates this policy, you should immediately report the matter to your supervisor. If you are unable for any reason to contact this person, or if you have not received a satisfactory response, please contact the next level manager or the Human Resources Manager. Employees are permitted to report the matter directly to Human Resources if preferred.

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Sexual Harassment Policy

Similar to the other anti-harassment policies, this policy is foundational for promoting a no-tolerance stance on sexual harassment. Some states have sexual harassment training requirements. You can learn more about this in our state-by-state guide.

“Sexual Harassment” is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (a) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests, or conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions; (b) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or sexually offensive work environment.

Examples of sexual harassment can include but are not limited to asking for sexual favors in exchange for work benefits, the posting of sexually graphic materials, jokes, stories, comments, or innuendoes of a sexual nature, making sexual gestures or expressions, unwanted touching of a person’s clothing or hair, whistling or “catcalls”, staring at someone, or blocking or impeding a person’s path. It is the responsibility of the employee who is subjected to harassment or who witnesses a case of unlawful harassment to report such an incident directly to their supervisor or, if that is not appropriate, to the Human Resources Manager.


Any company employee who feels that they have been harassed or discriminated against, or has witnessed or become aware of discrimination or harassment in violation of these policies, should bring the matter to the immediate attention of their supervisor or the Human Resources Manager. The company will promptly investigate all allegations of discrimination and harassment, and take action as appropriate based on the outcome of the investigation. An investigation and its results will be treated as confidential to the extent feasible, and the company will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation.

There will be no reprisal or retaliation against anyone who reports such an incident as it is unlawful to retaliate against anyone for filing a complaint or for cooperating in an investigation of a harassment complaint. No disciplinary action will be taken without a thorough investigation of the facts, which shall include gathering statements from all parties and witnesses involved.


Employees, contractors, and temporary workers are responsible for complying with this policy by reporting all instances of alleged harassment and cooperating in any investigation of the alleged harassment.

Supervisors and managers are responsible for implementing this policy in their departments, keeping the workplace free from any form of harassment, ensuring that all associates, contractors, and temporary workers understand this policy, taking harassment complaints seriously, and notifying Human Resources immediately about any complaints of sexual or other forms of harassment.

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Workplace Violence Policy

Workplace violence is surprisingly common. Set the standard early with a strong workplace violence policy.

It is [Company name]’s policy that any threats, threatening language, or any other acts of aggression or violence made toward or by any company employee will not be tolerated. Violations of this policy may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

Employees have a duty to warn their supervisors, security personnel, or human resources representatives of any suspicious behavior, situations, or incidents that they observe or are aware of that involve other employees, former employees, customers, suppliers, visitors, or other parties. These situations include, for example, threats or acts of violence, aggressive behavior, offensive acts, threatening or offensive comments or remarks, or similar behavior. Employee reports made according to this policy will be held in confidence to the maximum possible extent. The company will not permit any form of retaliation against any employee for filing a report under this policy.

[Company name] will promptly and thoroughly investigate all reports of threats of violence or incidents of actual violence and suspicious individuals or activities. The identity of the individual making a report will be protected as much as possible. To maintain workplace safety and the integrity of its investigation, the company may suspend employees suspected of workplace violence or threats of violence, either with or without pay, pending investigation.

Anyone found to be responsible for threats of or actual violence or other conduct that violates these guidelines will be subject to prompt disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

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Punctuality and Attendance Policy

This policy is a must for almost all companies. If an employee doesn't show up for work, your clearly defined “no call, no show” policy will provide the company with a clear plan for how to address the issue. It's also helpful to establish your company norms around attendance, lateness, etc.

Scheduled hours may vary depending on work location and job responsibilities. Supervisors will provide employees with their work schedules. Should an employee have any questions regarding their work schedule, the employee should contact the supervisor. The company does not tolerate absenteeism without an excuse. Employees who will be late to or absent from work should notify a supervisor in advance, or as soon as practicable in the event of an emergency. Employees who need to leave early, for illness or otherwise, should inform a supervisor before departure. Unauthorized departures may result in disciplinary action.

Employees are expected to arrive on time and ready for work. An employee who arrives after their scheduled arrival time is considered tardy. The company recognizes that situations arise which hinder punctuality; regardless, excessive tardiness is prohibited and may be subject to disciplinary action.

An employee who fails to report for their scheduled workday and has not notified their supervisor of their tardiness or absence within the first two hours of their scheduled shift will be considered a No Call No Show (NCNS). Two consecutive NCNSs are considered job abandonment and will be designated as a voluntary resignation of employment. In the case of job abandonment, the employee’s final date of employment for purposes of payroll and welfare benefits will be their last day worked.

We do recognize that there are times when absences and tardiness cannot be avoided. In such cases, you are expected to notify your supervisor as early as possible, but no later than the start of your workday. Asking another employee, friend, or relative to give this notice is improper and constitutes grounds for disciplinary action, unless unavoidable. Please call, stating the nature of your absence and its expected duration, every day that you are absent.

The company reserves the right to require reasonable proof of illness or temporary disability. Excessive absences or tardiness will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

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Personal and Company-Owned Communication Devices Policy

There are a couple of benefits to having a policy that sets expectations around devices, connecting to the company networks, and communications. An important callout here is that it's important to set expectations around the privacy of employee communication as they relate to work. Your employees should be aware that company emails and other communications may not be private.

The purpose of this policy is to define standards, procedures, and restrictions for end-users who have legitimate business uses for connecting a personally-owned mobile device to the company’s corporate network. This mobile device policy applies, but is not limited, to all devices and accompanying media that fit the following classifications:

  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Portable media devices
  • Portable gaming devices
  • Laptop/notebook computers
  • Any mobile device capable of storing corporate data and connecting to a network

The policy applies to any hardware and related software that is not corporately owned or supplied but could be used to access corporate resources. That is, devices that employees have purchased for personal use but also wish to use in the business environment. The overriding goal of this policy is to protect the integrity of the confidential client and business data that resides within the company’s technology infrastructure. This policy intends to prevent this data from being deliberately or inadvertently stored insecurely on a mobile device or carried over an insecure network where it could potentially be accessed by unsanctioned resources. A breach of this type could result in loss of information, damage to critical applications, loss of revenue, and damage to the company’s public image. Therefore, all users employing a mobile device connected to the company’s corporate network, and/or capable of backing up, storing, or otherwise accessing corporate data of any type, must adhere to company-defined processes for doing so. For approval and further information, contact your supervisor.

Company-Provided Portable Communication Devices (PCDs), including cell phones, tablets, and computers, should be used primarily for business purposes. Employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the use of such devices, and all use is subject to monitoring, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. This includes, as permitted by law, the right to monitor personal communications as necessary. Some employees may be authorized to use their PCD for business purposes. These employees should work with the IT department to configure their PCD for business use. Communications sent via a personal PCD also may be subject to monitoring if sent through the company's networks, and the PCD must be provided for inspection and review upon request. When sending a text message or using a PCD for business purposes, whether it is a company-provided or personal device, employees must comply with applicable company guidelines, including policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, conduct, confidentiality, equipment use, and operation of vehicles.

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Inspections Policy

Although an inspection policy doesn't give you a license to break any state laws (for example, searching an employee's car at work may be problematic), an inspection policy helps provide the framework for keeping your workplace safe, and free of weapons, drugs, or other prohibited items.

[COMPANY NAME] wishes to maintain a work environment that is free of illegal drugs, alcohol, firearms, explosives, or other improper materials. To this end, [COMPANY NAME] prohibits the control, possession, transfer, sale, or use of such materials on its premises. The company may require employees while on company or client property, to agree to the inspection of their persons, personal possessions, property, and work areas including vehicles, desks, cabinets, workstations, packages, handbags, briefcases, and other personal possessions or places of concealment, as well as a personal email sent to the company or its clients. The cooperation of all employees is required to successfully administer this policy. Desks, lockers, and other storage devices may be provided for the convenience of employees but remain the sole property of the employer. Accordingly, any authorized agent or representative of the employer can inspect them, as well as any articles found within them, at any time, either with or without prior notice. Employees are expected to cooperate in the conduct of any search or inspection.

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Conflict of Interest and Business Ethics

A solid ethics and conflict of interest policy in your handbook should prompt your employees to raise potentially harmful with the company before they occur. A general ethics policy also helps establish what's expected from your team.

All active employees must notify the company before they take outside employment so that the company will have reasonable notice to decide whether it sees, at that time, any conflict of interest. An employee may hold a job with another organization as long as they satisfactorily perform their job responsibilities with the company, including scheduling requirements, and that the position is approved in advance. Employees should consider the impact that outside employment may have on their health and physical endurance and safety. All employees will be judged by the same performance standards and will be subject to the employer's scheduling demands, regardless of any existing outside work requirements. The company retains the right to prohibit second jobs if it considers them to be a safety exposure.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the company's reputation is not compromised. The fundamental principle guiding this policy is that no employee should have, or appear to have, personal interests or relationships that actually or potentially conflict with the best interests of the company.

Employees have an obligation to conduct business within guidelines that prohibit actual or potential conflicts of interest. Employees can seek further clarification on issues related to the subject of acceptable standards of operation. Situations that would constitute a conflict in most cases include but are not limited to:

  • Transactions with outside firms that are not conducted within a framework established or controlled by the executive level of the organization.
  • Bribes, bonuses, fringe benefits, unusual price breaks, or excess volumes are designed to benefit another company, an employee, a relative, or an acquaintance.
  • Holding an interest in, or being employed by, any company that competes with [Company name].

No "presumption of guilt" is created by the mere existence of a relationship with outside personnel. However, if an employee has any influence on transactions involving purchases, contracts, or leases, they must disclose to an officer of the organization as soon as possible the existence of any actual or potential conflict of interest so that safeguards can be established to protect all parties. A conflict of interest would also exist when a member of an employee's immediate family is involved in situations such as those above.

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Health and Safety Policy

Health and safety policies vary widely based on the industry you're working in. A health and safety policy in an office will vary greatly from a manufacturer. They're an important part of any employee handbook and should be a part of every company's culture. A key element of a Health and safety policy is reporting. Make sure you state clearly that employees have a duty to report unsafe conditions, damaged equipment, etc.

5. State and local policies

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of changes to state and (most recently) city-specific policies that belong in an employee handbook. The high-level impact on employers is that there is more to communicate.

If you have employees in multiple states, be sure your handbook includes policies relevant to those locations. This is important because it helps keep your company and employees aligned and clear on what policies apply. The result of this alignment is keeping the focus on work and not on what sick leave policy is applicable. Need a handbooks with state and city-specific policies? It’s always best to review your handbook with your trusted advisors (including your attorney)  to review your final handbook.

You need federal policies in your handbook.

Core federal policies including equal employment opportunity, non-discrimination, and more.

You need state policies in your handbook.

State-specific polices are required for every state where you have employees. Each state has it's own required policies.

You need local policies in your handbook.

Many cities and counties have specific protections, benefits, and rules for employees in those locations.

Employee handbook requirements by state

Click on a state to learn more about policies and recommendations.

Latest Handbook and Employment Updates
July 2024

Stay in compliance with the latest updates for your company, including state and city-specific policies. Get started by creating a new handbook.

  • Chicago, Illinois - Effective July 1, Chicago employees who work at least 80 hours in a 4-month period are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave and 40 hours of sick leave per year. Up to 80 hours of sick leave can be carried over to the next year.
  • California - As of July 1 nearly all employers are required to create and maintain a workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) and train their employees on their WVPP. Per SB 533, companies must conduct an initial assessment of risk factors, implement and maintain WVPP, and conduct annual training.
  • Idaho - Employers have new protections from a law that expands immunity from civil damages including claims from policies specifically allowing employees to carry firearms.
  • Oregon - Several changes to Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) are effective as of July 1. OFLA and PLO will no longer run concurrently (they can now run sequentially) and OFLA no longer covers parental leave and serious health conditions.
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“For companies that have employees in multiple states, ensuring you have the most up-to-date state and city-specific policies is essential to keeping the company aligned and clear on what policies apply.”

Interested in handbook updates?

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What should be inlcuded

Handbook Checklist

The building blocks for a great handbook include these items. The best handbooks blend clear, effective policies with your unique culture, mission, and vision for the company.

Introduction and core policies - Including a welcome and mission statement
Benefits policies - Time away from work and other benefits
On-the-job policies - Procedures and how your company operates
Code of conduct policies - What’s expected of your employees
State and local policies - Required policies based on where your employees work
Handbook acknowledgments - Employee signatures to confirm they’ve read the handbook

Handbook Section List

An outline of the content you will want in your handbook

Here’s a detailed list of content you should consider. Many of these are included in our free employee handbook template.

Section 1 - Company Introduction
Welcome Statement
Mission Statement
About this Handbook
Equal Employment Opportunity
Open Door Policy
Section 2 - Employment Policies
Employee Categories
Performance Reviews
Introductory Period
Discipline Policies
Section 3 - Time Away From Work and Other Benefits
Benefits Overview
Jury Duty
Voting Leave
Military Leave
Family Medical Leave Act
Leave Vacation Benefits
Sick Days
Insurance Benefits
Workers’ Compensation
Section 4 - On the Job Practices and Policies
Employment Records
Working Schedule
Lactation Breaks
Direct Deposit
Company Vehicles
Property Policy

Section 5 - Standards of Conduct
Non-Harassment Policy
Non-Discrimination Policy
Sexual Harassment
Workplace Violence
Employee Conduct and Work Rules
Use of Communication and Computer Systems
Punctuality and Attendance
Personal and Company Owned Communication Devices
Personal Visitors and Telephone Calls
Confidential Company Information
No Solicitation / No Distribution
Conflict of Interest and Business Ethics
Equipment and Property Including Intellectual Property
Health and Safety
Hiring Relatives
Business Expense Reimbursement
Recording Device Policy
Social Media Policy
Employee Dress Section 6 - Acknowledgements
General Handbook Acknowledgment
Receipt of Non-Harassment Policy
Receipt of Sexual Harassment Policy

Frequently asked Questions


Q: What states have policies that need to be included in a handbook?

A: Each state (and many cities) in the US have their own set of employment laws and regulations, which may require employers to include state-specific policies in their employee handbook

Q: I have employees in a handful of states. What does that mean for my handbook?

A: You need to have policies for every state where you have employees. These policies are included in the state and local policies section of the handbook template.

Q: Do I have to write my own content after downloading the template?

A: You may want to add company-specific information, policies, and guidelines. Don’t forget to focus on your company culture!

Q: What’s the best way to get the most up-to-date employee handbook template?

A: The handbook builder tool is a great way to create a detailed employee handbook. You’ll be able to edit the handbook online or download it as a Word document.

Q: How often should I update my handbook?

A: Federal, state, and local policies change. It’s a good practice to review and update your employee handbook regularly to ensure that it remains current and compliant with any new or updated laws and regulations. Also, if there are any significant changes to your company policies, procedures, or benefits, you should update the handbook to reflect those changes.

Q: What features does my employee handbook include?

A: The Comprehensive Handbook Subscription includes ongoing policy updates and a shareable link for your team that allows you to distribute your handbook without printing copies. The handbook-sharing feature also instantly reflects changes you make to the handbook.

Employer Tips

Pro tips for creating a great employee handbook

  • Make your handbook easy to read and accessible to everyone
  • Distribute your handbook digitally (Handbooks.io provides live link sharing!)
  • Adjust any policies to reflect your company’s unique culture
  • Be sure to include state and city-specific policies. You need policies for every state where you have employees
  • Keep your federal, state, and local policies up to date, as they change frequently

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