Is conflict between employers and employees inevitable?
How you answer that question will shine a light on how you view your employee handbook. A good handbook makes your expectations clear. Your employees won’t have any ambiguity on your policies, standards and procedures. It may not prevent the conflict, but it can help you when conflict arises. And it may keep you out of court. When it comes to protecting your company, the best approach is often having clearly stated policies and following them consistently.
Many employment problems come from charges of favoritism, discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination.
Here are a couple must-haves for your handbook:
A disclaimer for your Handbook itself
The Handbook should never represent a contract for or offer of employment and cannot possibly cover every workplace situation, nor is it designed to, and the policies can change at any time.
An At-Will clause
As an employer, you can terminate employment at any time, for any reason, with or without notice, with few exceptions. (Montana is one.)
An Anti-Harassment policy and an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy
It is important to have a detailed procedure laid out for any employee who experiences harassment. This policy should include contact and procedural information for anyone who seeks to make a report or lodge a complaint.
Other Important Policies
Policies on Attendance, Tardiness, Dress Code, Smoking, Drug Testing, Substance Abuse,Confidentiality and Non-Competition.
Social Media and Internet clauses if your company has an online presence.
A Safe Working Environment clause
Industry regulations may require additional clauses (meeting OSHA requirements, etc.).
If your company employs over 15 people, you will also need to include disclaimers about Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A Code of Conduct, applicable to all.
Your Employee Handbook is a living document that must be updated as laws change. Your Handbook should reflect your compliance with policy that can vary depending on State and Local laws. Be sure to check with a qualified professional about which laws are applicable to you.
Avoid being overly specific or making promises in your Handbook. You want your rules, policies, perks and benefits to apply to everyone. Putting procedures into writing and then following and enforcing these procedures not only creates cohesiveness among staff, it also provides employees with a clear path from disagreement to resolution.
Setting up a bulletproof Employee Handbook is simple.
Just don’t forget to collect a signed and dated acknowledgment form from every employee!