Does My Company Need an Employee Handbook?

If you are going to have more than a few employees, you should seriously consider creating an employee handbook to explain the rules, policies and procedures of the workplace. A well written employee handbook will set forth the expectations of the workplace – both what your employees can expect from you and what you can expect from your employees. An employee manual may also help to protect you and your company in the event of an employee lawsuit. The best course of action is to have an employment attorney prepare a handbook for you, but no matter what, you should make sure that your employee handbook contains the following:

1. Mission Statement. A good mission statement defines what an organization is and its reason for being. Your mission statement should define who your primary customers are, identify the products and services you produce, and describe the geographical location in which you operate.

2. Employment at Will. Be very careful here. If you do not indicate that the employee is an employee at will, the employee may argue that the employee handbook creates an employment contract. Click here for more information on employment at will.

3. Equal Employment Opportunity. State that your company provides equal employment opportunities to all individuals, and encourage your employees to contact the appropriate staff with any issues related to equal opportunity/discrimination, without fear of reprisal. And commit your company to equal employment opportunity – it’s the right thing to do.

4. Salary, Bonuses and Benefits. Explain employees’ wages and benefits. Do so clearly and iin writing. This should include information related to overtime compensation. Also, note that under the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act, this information must be in writing, signed by the employee. Click here for more information on the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act.

5. Disciplinary Procedures. Make sure that your employees understand what is and is not tolerated. Also, let them know how discipline is handled. Make sure that you also state that the company always reserves the right to decide to discipline or fire an employee at any time. Don’t get bogged down by an overly formulaic disciplinary policy.

6. Computer Policy. Let your employees know that they should not expect privacy with respect to use of company computer equipment including their company e-mail address, company laptop, desktop and PDA. You should also include a company policy on internet, social networking, blogging, etc.

7. Vacation, Sick Time. Set forth clearly how this works. Be clear and let the employee know whether or not the company has a “use it or lose it” policy. This is just a short list of what should be in an employee handbook. If you are a New York Employer, we can help you draft an effective and economical New York Employee Handbook. A good handbook will not only set forth how employment will work, but it can also save you substantial litigation costs.

Our firm is experienced in drafting employee handbooks and other documents for litigation avoidance (e.g. progressive discipline documents, performance review templates, arbitration agreements, etc.).  We can prepare these documents for a flat fee and with a quick turnaround time.  Please contact us for more information.