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


What goes in your handbook

What are the basic parts of an employee 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
Copy these policies

2. Time away from work and other benefits policies

Not having clearly defined policies around time away from work is a major source of friction and can be problematic for the business. Clear up any ambiguity here.

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

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
Copy these policies

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
Copy these policies

6. State and local policies

Each state (and now many cities and counties) have their own specific policies that apply to any employee in those locations.  Having these policies in your handbook reduces friction and can keep employers out of hot water.  It’s always best to review your handbook with your trusted advisors (including your attorney)  to review your final handbook.

  • See our 50-state breakdown of policies
Copy these policies




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
States and Cities

State and city-sepecific 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? Create a handbook now

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
February 2024

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


  • California - Employers in California are subject to AB 1076 which makes it illegal for an employer to include a “noncompete clause” in an employment contract or requires employees to sign a non-compete agreement. Employers are required to notify current and former employees hired after January 1, 2022 that any contracts they signed are void. Employers have until February 14, 2024 to notify these employees.
  • Hawaii - In 2024, Hawaii joined a growing list of states requiring employers to include pay ranges when advertising jobs to prospective or current employees. See our infographic on this topic.
  • Michigan - Last year, Michigan repealed the Michigan Right to Work Act. The effective date of this change is February 13, 2024. As of the repeal date, employees in private-sector unions no longer have a statutory right to opt out of union membership or refrain from paying union dues or fees as a condition of their employment.
  • Pittsburgh, PA - The City of Pittsburgh, PA will begin strict enforcement and compliance checks for local businesses, to be sure they’re providing employees with paid sick days. The city is imposing a $100 fine as well as restitution for non-compliance.
  • Utah - House Bill 55 adds to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act and prohibits nondisclosure or non-disparagement agreements related to sexual harassment. These agreements are no longer allowed as a condition of employment.
  • Federal - The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has updated the rules relating to “joint employers”. The new standards go into effect on February 26, 2024, and will likely mean that more companies are categorized as “joint employers”. Joint employers "share or codetermine those matters governing employees' essential terms and conditions of employment" under the updated rule.
January 2024
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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.”


Handbook Examples

Great Employee handbook examples

Besides the must-have content we’ve talked about, what you include in your employee handbook depends on your business and your culture. Some of the best handbook examples we’ve seen come from companies that try to overlay their culture alongside their policies. Maybe you’ll see something that inspires you.

What's great about this handbook?

22Squared did such a great job here really unpacking their culture. It’s not exactly a “policy handbook”, but don’t let that stop you from learning from a masterful example of how to put the right vibes out there.



What's great about this handbook?

Besides having a robust handbook, Pronto Marketing has fully integrated their handbook into their company marketing website. It communicates that their culture, policies and norms are designed to be seen and embraced.



What's great about this handbook?

Sonnedix has done a nice job personalizing their employee handbook. The message from their CEO and head of HR is personal and compelling. It’s clear they designed their handbook to be read, and they have taken care to try to communicate their values as a renewable energy company.

Employee Handbook Examples


What's great about this handbook?

Brinker International (a hospitality company behind many restaurants you’ve eaten at) has done a masterful job with an engaging guide on its core values. Their guide to making good decisions is particularly well done. The goal is clear: set a high bar and remind employees to engage their own values.

Employee Handbook Examples


What's great about this handbook?

What’s nice about the MMS handbook is that it is completely operationalized. They have done a great job incorporating the day-to-day norms of their company. It’s got clear, tactical instructions on how work gets done at the company.



What's great about this handbook?

Meta has focused its “code of conduct” on the principles that should guide employees instead of very specific do’s and dont’s. Although this might not be ideal for every company, it’s inspiring.



What's great about this handbook?

ConvertKit is a great company and they nailed a simple, elegant handbook that unpacks some operating norms as well as their culture. They get bonus points for integrating it into their marketing site to be used as a recruiting tool.





Creating an editable handbook

How to create your new employee handbook template

  • Get an up-to-date handbook
  • Edit online or download Word Doc
  • Includes essential policies
  • EEOC, harassment and discrimination policies
  • Customizable optional policies


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
Employment-At-Will
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
Holidays
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
Payroll
Overtime
Timekeeping
Working Schedule
Lactation Breaks
Direct Deposit
Company Vehicles
Property Policy

Section 5 - Standards of Conduct
Non-Harassment Policy
Non-Discrimination Policy
Sexual Harassment
Responsibilities
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
Inspections
Smoking
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
References
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

FAQs

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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Employee Handbook Resources

Best practices, guidance and information for companies