The Employee Handbook provides a great opportunity for your business to communicate policies and procedures to its employees. The Handbook can be printed, online or available on the company’s intranet, or a combination of ways. Each employee should be given a copy and asked to sign an acknowledgement that they have received a copy, and it is their responsibility to read it. This document is critically important to protect your business in court if an employee claims that they are ignorant of the company’s policies. Employees are also informed about important company compliance responsibilities, including equal employment opportunity, non-discrimination and retaliation protection.
Employment at will policies state that either the employee or the employer may terminate the employment relationship for any reason, at any time, as long as the reason is not illegal or prohibited under federal, state or local law. Florida follows the principles of “at-will” employment, but check with your legal advisor on any exceptions.
For protection purposes, these policies are critical:
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- No Harassment
- Employment at will
- Open door and complaint handling
- Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Policy
- Drug Free Workplace
- Dress Code and Appearance Standards
- Email, Internet Usage
- Employee Searches
- Solicitation and Distribution (Bulletin Board)
- Paid time off
- Timekeeping and Pay Dates
- Benefits (eligibility)
- Attendance and No call/no show
- Performance Evaluation
- Leaves of Absence (FMLA if over 50 employees)
- Confidential Information and Trade Secrets
- Conflict of Interest
A company’s employee handbook is a living document that should be regularly reviewed and updated to meet current conditions at the company. Throughout the year, keep a file on situations that were not addressed in the handbook. Annually take out this file and consider whether employees would benefit from a new policy (for instance – moonlighting, ethics, etc..). If the situation was unusual, maybe no policy is necessary; however, if it will be repeated, your best option will be adding a new policy statement.