7 things to keep in mind while framing your HR Handbook

HR Handbook things to keep in mind


In the previous blog, we discussed about “Why Employee Handbook / Policy Manuals are important for any organization?”

Only having policy manual is not sufficient, especially if they are not clear, well-written, and specific to the business and if they focus mostly on negativity — in other words list, only what not to do. Companies, meanwhile, typically look at these manuals in terms of how to cover their asset in the event of any potential lawsuits.

The actual policies in the Manual will vary from company to company, depending on its size, number of employees, and benefits offered. Regardless of the size or complexity of your business, once you hire your first employee its best to take the time to think through the policies for your company, have at least the minimum list of policies for your employees, and write them down.

Do’s and Don’ts in Policy Mannual

The Handbook should contain enough details

If there are other Documents (I.E. Group Insurance Handbook, Retirement Plan Documents etc.) which more appropriately provide details, don’t try to recreate the information in the Handbook. Instead, offer a brief summary and refer to the other document in The Employee Handbook.

Don’t let your handbook sit and collect dust!

An employee handbook should be a “living document,” which gets reviewed and updated frequently. This will ensure that the handbook is both narrowly tailored to reflect your company’s policies and is in compliance with state/local laws (which change frequently).

Avoid making your handbook complex.

An employee handbook should be thorough and cover a variety of important business practices and policies, employers should avoid making their handbooks too large and “unmanageable”.

Avoid making definite promises.

Such promises might form the basis of breach of contract claims down the line. In the same spirit, avoid creating detailed policies which you will have difficulty enforcing, or do not intend to enforce at all.

Get a signed employee handbook acknowledgment form.

The “legal protection” benefits provided by having an employee handbook are not going to apply where no evidence exists that the employee ever received the handbook or was made aware of the employer’s policies.

Don’t distribute an employee handbook downloaded from the Internet.

The most common mistake professionals make with regards to employee handbooks is downloading one off of the Internet and using it as their own. Oftentimes these handbooks are outdated, and not in compliance with the ever-changing legal scenario. In addition, these handbooks are not always customized for your industry and are not representative of your “company culture.”

Always keep a copy of your old employee handbooks.

While employee handbooks should be updated frequently, it is also important to always retain a copy of your past handbooks. In case if an employee file a charge with a federal/state/local human rights agency, the investigator is going to want to see a copy of the employee handbook that was in effect at the time the incident in question occurred.

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