Spanish Employee Handbook for Non-Native Speakers

Much can be lost in translation when employees with a poor grasp of English are forced to sign a handbook without fully understanding the policies contained therein. Your handbook is your protection, but if it can’t be read and understood by your employees, it does you no good. If language is a barrier between your employees and your employee policies, clear communication is the best way to overcome that barrier, and a Spanish-language handbook can help break that barrier down.

In 2012, a Colorado judge ruled in favor of 9 Spanish-speaking employees who, unable to read the English version of the handbooks presented to them, did not know the correct protocol for reporting the sexual harassment they were experiencing. The company would later settle the lawsuit for $255,000, a high price to pay for having all the right policies in place, but a poor grasp on how to communicate those policies to its non-English-speaking employees.

Companies need to communicate their policies, standards and procedures clearly to all their employees.  A Spanish employee handbook removes any barriers.

Troublesome Policies May Be Lurking In Your Handbook

An outdated employee handbook can spell trouble!  Here are a couple of the most common policy problems we see in HR Policy Manuals:

At Will Employment

Some handbooks contain a statement that indicates an “at Will” relationship can be changed is if CEO or President of the company signs a statement indicating that the relationship has changed.  The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) indicated in a  complaint that such a statement implies unionization is futile.

Non-Disparaging Language

Does your employee handbook explicitly say you can’t use language about your employer that present it in an unflattering light?  Sorry, that’s a first amendment issue and can’t go into the handbook.

Discussion of Compensation

Ditto the above.  You can’t keep employees from sharing this information.

Social Media Policies

Policies that are too broad and have specific prohibitions about sharing unflattering opinions of company employees are probably too broad.  They shouldn’t be included in your handbook.


You can’t force employees to waive their rights to a class action lawsuit!

Take a hard look at the language in your policies.  It can keep you out of hot water.

Seven Reasons You Need an Employee Handbook!

Once considered junk paper by employees and a dull way for a company to cover its own hide, Employee Handbooks are getting a facelift and a rewrite. Here are seven reasons why your company needs an Employee Handbook:

Create cohesion.
The workplace is sometimes a murky place to navigate. You have a meeting of minds, a clashing of personalities, a range of talents and probably a pecking order too. You’re all in this workplace together. The Employee Handbook serves as a guide that applies to everyone from intern to owner and sets the standard of treatment and shared vision.

Answer hard-to-ask questions.
How are performance issues addressed prior to termination? What does an employee who has an issue with a supervisor or coworker do? Established employees don’t necessarily wonder if they have bereavement, medical or maternity leave until they need it. New hires, who are typically overloaded with information, need something they can refer back to. Make life easier. Put the answers in your Employee Handbook and save everyone some awkwardness.

And the not-so-hard-to-ask questions!
If you employ managers or supervisors without providing an Employee Handbook, chances are you have given them unnecessary work. Do we get Presidents’ Day off? Do we get Black Friday off? Can I wear jeans? Flip flops? So, how is my vacation tallied again? Will I get a yearly performance review? Do I get time and a half for working on a holiday? The Employee Handbook is a resource that employees can use to plan their personal lives, without having to ask a supervisor every time they need to refresh their memories.

Provide a recipe for success.
An employee looking to advance will embrace your company’s values, work to meet and exceed your expectations and embody the information contained in the Employee Handbook. What are your expectations exactly? An old, out-of-date Handbook that doesn’t reflect where your company is today isn’t going to help your next superstar rise.

Express yourself.
Do you think your company’s values, culture, expectations, etc. are implicit in the vibe you put out or the mood in the break room? Think again. Your Employee Handbook helps set the tone, direction and essence of your company. Your Handbook is how you sell your company to your employees.

Put it in stone.
Not everything you read is true, until it shows up in the Employee Handbook. Your content is your company’s truth. You can state your goals, lay out your policies, repeat your mantra, inform your employees, cover your bases, and repeat your mantra. (Getit?) Make your mission resonate in one go-to guide.

Protect your company!
Your Employee Handbook is your first line of protection against litigation. Spell out your policies proactively and save yourself from future lawsuits.