2023 Version

Employee Handbook Template

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Employee Handbook Template
Handbook Basics

What to include in an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is an integral, but often overlooked, tool for businesses. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of employees clearly and allows the employer to communicate company culture, policy, and values. A company can choose to build its handbook in any number of unique ways, but below find what you will want to make sure you include in your handbook, as well as helpful tips and examples. When you do it right, you’ll have a document that is distinctly unique and is the ultimate way to showcase your company.


Must-have content

  • Mission statement
  • Company policies
  • Handbook acknowledgements
  • Employer benefits
  • Employment at will language
  • EEOC, harassment and discrimination policies
  • State and city-specific policies

What goes in your handbook

Give me the must-have sections for my handbook!

This is included in the free employee handbook template (PDF for Word Doc)

  1. Setting the tone with a welcome statement + mission statement
  2. Don’t miss this opportunity to tell your team you’re glad they’re here. Set the tone: positive, collaborative with an emphasis on clear communication. It’s time to include that mission statement and personally address the people who make the company function. A great handbook can be a powerful recruiting and retention tool.

  3. Employment at-will policy
  4. At-will employment means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason (as long as it’s not an illegal reason!) without having to demonstrate a justification and without advance warning. This is an important tool for employers and gives companies the flexibility to make changes. Your employee handbook is an important way to communicate this. Note that at-will employment rules vary by state. Check out our employee handbook template to see an example.

  5. Equal Opportunity Employer policy
  6. The purpose of an Equal Opportunity Employer Statement is primarily to prevent employers and hiring managers from bringing personal bias into their hiring decisions. It’s required by the EEOC and it’s the right thing to do. The goal here is to avoid biases that discriminate against candidates based on age, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, and more.

  7. Discrimination, harassment, and complaint procedures
  8. Describing a clear, actionable plan for what to do when an employee feels like they have been discriminated against or harassed is a must-have. It’s an employer's job to give clear guidelines on acceptable behavior and a procedure for how employees can make complaints. It’s important (and required) that you spell out the next steps for an employee to take if they feel like they have been harassed or discriminated against.

  9. Benefits
  10. Showcase and explain your benefits! Vacation policies, leave, and how to request time off definitely need to be included. If you offer health insurance, it’s usually a good idea to acknowledge this in your handbook but refer your team to the insurance provider to explain the nuances. Health insurance has a lot of nuance and changes frequently.

  11. The nuts and bolts of how you work
  12. Expectations around communication, reviews, absences, expenses, computer systems, etc. If it’s important to the operations of your company or something that feels like it keeps coming up, it might be time to add it to your handbook. The best handbooks are living documents that get updated frequently and capture the spirit and culture of your company. The goal is to set clear expectations for your team.

  13. Handbook acknowledgments
  14. A signature page at the end of the document is ok, but not great. What you really want is a few signatures indicating receipt and acknowledgment of 1) the whole handbook 2) the harassment and discrimination policies. Don’t forget that updates to the handbook require updated acknowledgments.

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.

We have provided state-by-state resources to help companies understand more about what's required in a handbook. You can reference California or Texas policies as an example.

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.

  • Federal policies
  • State-level policies
  • City-specific policies

“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.

  1. The Motley Fool's employee handbook
  2. Motley Fool This handbook does a great job of laying out company benefits and policy, in a way that, well, to quote the Fool, “doesn’t make your eyes glaze over.” This company did a good job summarizing employee benefits and policies while keeping the handbook welcoming and light-hearted.

  3. Chick-Fil-A’s employee handbook
  4. This handbook is all that and a side of Polynesian sauce. It even dabbles on phrases such as “my pleasure,” which is a company-mandated reply any time a customer says “Thank you.” Although sometimes polarizing in the news, Chick-Fil-A remains commercially successful and does a nice job laying out its policies and procedures clearly outlined in the employee handbook. Chick-Fil-A’s employee handbook heavily encapsulates the company’s many rules of service and expectations.

  5. Wegman's employee handbook
  6. Wegman's offers a thorough overview and espouses both company culture and policy.

  7. Netflix employee handbook
  8. Netflix focuses on 10 core values that are laid out in easy-to-digest bullet points on its publically available culture page. (Full transparency.) It’s a little thin on some details but an interesting example.

  9. Entrata's employee handbook
  10. This handbook is a decent mix of culture and heavy on policy. It’s clear that the leadership team maintains that 80s Bill & Ted vibe and Rule #1: Be Excellent to Each Other.

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
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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Employee Handbook Resources

Best practices, guidance and information for companies