When an employee joins a company, a whole host of policies and guidelines need to be presented. One of the best ways to do this is through an employee handbook.
Whilst not a legal requirement, an employee handbook effectively distributes information and welcome packs in one document.
Employee handbooks mitigate risks if issues arise with employees, protecting the employer from legal cases as terms, conditions, and policies are set out in one guide. Furthermore, employee handbooks provide consistency for all employees brought into the company.
When all employees are on the same page and have received the same information, it ensures no discrepancies or unfair treatment.
Below, we look at what an employee handbook is and what the contents should include.
What is an Employee Handbook?
Employee handbooks may not be the most exciting way to welcome a new hire to a company. However, they are a cornerstone of HR for small businesses.
An employee handbook is a collection of documents that outline company policy on several topics. It should keep the employee informed of best practices, legal requirements and include a welcome letter.
With employment law governing the workplace, employees must be aware of the policies to protect both the employer and employee.
When a new hire comes on board, they need to be aware of all the company policies they’ll need to adhere to. In addition, they need to understand best practices for issues such as calling in sick.
Contents of an Employee Handbook
There are a plethora of policies to be covered in an employee handbook. Furthermore, some of the procedures are legal requirements – making the employee handbook vital. Below, we look at the essentials of your employee handbook.
A welcome letter turns an employee handbook from a collection of documents into an official welcome pack. It acts as an opportunity to add some personality, explain the handbook, and make the new hire feel welcome.
Adding personality to your welcome pack is crucial as it sets the tone for the company culture. Company culture contributes to employee satisfaction and, in turn, productivity.
Sickness and absence policy
There are numerous reasons for absence at work, including maternity and paternity leave, sickness absence and annual leave.
The sickness and absence policies set out clear guidelines for taking different types of leave. The policies will also outline the consequences of not following the procedure correctly.
The policies help protect the HR department and management should disciplinary action be taken as the employer can clearly show that the employee was made aware.
Travel and expenses policy
Travel and expenses guidelines explain what the procedures are for reimbursing employees for travel and other expenses. This is particularly important for businesses with employees who go away on business or go out for meetings with clients.
Discipline policies are put in place to outline expected behaviour and the consequences of poor conduct. The procedures and guidelines set clear expectations and demonstrate the process for disciplinary steps.
Health and safety
A documented health and safety policy is a legal requirement for businesses with five or more employees. But even with fewer than five employees, it’s a good idea to have a health and safety document.
The health and safety document protects the employer and employee. It sets out safety guidelines and complies with the Health and Safety at Work act 1974.
Like the discipline policies, the performance policies set out how employee performance will be managed and what is expected. It also outlines how poor performance will be governed.
The policy should cover appraisals and when and how they will take place.
Confidentiality and conflict of interest policies
In some industries, knowledge is potent. As a result, businesses will need to protect themselves from conflict of interest or sharing of ideas.
The confidentiality policy protects businesses and tells employees what they can and can’t do during and after employment.
Internet and technology policies
Most businesses operate with the use of technology and computers, and this policy prevents misuse.
The IT policy should protect sensitive data, password security and cover internet and social media misuse.
Equal opportunities are a crucial part of your employee handbook. It should state how your business is committed to providing equal opportunities and guidelines for avoiding discrimination against others.
A grievance policy explains how an employee can raise a grievance against a colleague. In addition, it should outline the process from submitting the grievance to resolution.
Employee handbooks – a necessity
With so much to inform an employee of on their first day, it makes sense to include all the information in one handy document.
Doing so protects the business from ambiguity at a later point should anything go wrong. Employment law and policies associated with it are the bedrock of a well-functioning workplace and should not be ignored.
A well put together employee handbook serves to welcome an employee. Further, it covers all relevant procedures without the need for endless explanation meetings.
Consider adding some personality to your welcome letter and employee handbook for a personal touch to your workplace culture. The employee handbook is one of the first impressions made, so be sure to get it right.