An employee handbook is a document that communicates your company's mission, policies and expectations. Employers give this to employees to clarify their rights and responsibilities while they're employed with the company. Beyond their value in running an organization, when done correctly, employee handbooks can be a valuable tool in building a defense in the event of a lawsuit. These are just a few of the reasons why every employer, regardless of the number of employees, should have one.
Here at Duggan Law Corporation in Sacramento, we advise Northern California employers on the content of their employee handbooks. Our work with employee handbooks is part of our wider service to small- to medium-sized employers without internal human resources or legal departments.
Employee handbooks are not one size fits all. Our lawyers can review existing handbooks and suggest changes to comply with the current law or that are otherwise beneficial for employers. Duggan attorneys also help draft new handbooks from the ground up, and develop internal policies and procedures that are tailored to specific employer.
So many reasons exist for a California employer to have a robust, up-to-date employee handbook. Federal and state employment laws create many legal obligations for employers that should be promptly implemented and clearly communicated to the workforce. It is important to regularly audit employee handbooks to ensure they are up to date with the most current state and Federal law.
Scope of handbooks
Examples of subjects to include in a handbook:
- Welcome and mission statements, and company information
- Legal obligations from federal, state and local employment laws that impact the employer-employee relationship, including information an employer is legally required to communicate to its employees such as maternity leave rights under state law
- Employer practices concerning hiring, onboarding, drug testing, employee privacy and training
- Equal opportunity employment and prohibition of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and workplace bullying, including the reporting procedure for such conduct.
- Procedures for timekeeping requirements, attendance, scheduling, payroll deductions, leaves, lactation, sick leave, overtime, time off requests, meal and rest periods, payment of wages and other similar topics
- Details regarding employee benefits and rights like health insurance, retirement benefits, holidays, breaks, sick time, paid time off and holidays, disability insurance and others
- Employer rules regarding expectations like dress codes and hygiene, social media, confidentiality, work place safety, disciplinary repercussions for lateness or policy violations, alcohol and drug use, weapons and others
Expectations regarding employee conduct, including a prohibited conduct such as illegal activity or behavior that discriminates or harasses others based on protected characteristics like gender, religion, race, age, disability and others
This only scratches the surface of issues related to handbooks, but they can be great tools to educate supervisors and managers as well as set expectations and provide guidance to and set expectations for employees.