A good handbook provides many benefits to both the employer and employee.
For new employees, a handbook should be provided on the first day of employment. Not only should it provide the foundational information that they need as an employee, but it also introduces them to the mission and culture of the employer.
For current employees and supervisors, the handbook serves as an important communication tool. There are times when an issue occurs and human resources is not around. Handbooks provide that go-to reference for relevant information on company policies and procedures.
As a whole, handbooks need to be user-friendly and not be too long. You don’t want every policy in its entirety located in the handbook. If a handbook is too cumbersome for the employee to read or utilize then it becomes counterproductive and leaves you open for a lawsuit.
A handbook should not be a one-size-fits-all document, it is only as good as the information in it. If you use a template or sample language, be sure to tailor it to your specific policies, procedures and the laws that are applicable to public sector employers of your size. Creating your handbook with a systematic approach, having similar information grouped together in sections is key i.e. employment laws, benefits offered, payroll, etc.
Typically, the first thing a third-party investigator asks for is the employee handbook. Remember, if the handbook is written correctly and utilized consistently with every employee, it will be your first and main line of defense. On the flip side, if the handbook is inadequately written and not used properly, it can be the reason an employee has taken legal action.
Make sure there is an acknowledgment form that has specific language to employment-at-will and harassment policies. Be sure your handbook works with and not against any union contracts and that you run it past your employment law attorney.
The IMWCA employee handbook checklist is a sample list to ensure your handbooks provide the information that employees need to perform their jobs successfully and within the realm of the employer’s policies and procedures and within federal, state and local laws.
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