2022 Template Version

Employee Handbook Template - Word & PDF

Available as PDF or Word Doc download
Completely free - no credit card required
Updated with new policies and language
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Handbook Basics

What needs to go in your handbook

Most handbooks lack a balance between culture and policy. A handbook should serve as a guide for not only a company to protect itself, but it should provide specific guidance and expectations for all employees. Blending policy and the vibrancy of your company culture should be your goal. When you do it right, you’ll have a document that is distinctly unique and is the ultimate way to showcase your company.


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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. 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.


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.

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

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
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

Free Employee handbook template (Word and PDF)


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Employee Handbook Resources

Best practices, guidance and information for companies