What is an employee handbook?
Employee handbooks are a good idea for all employers. Employee handbooks set out the terms and conditions of the employment and the standard of conduct expected from employees. For example, they may identify what sorts of behaviour will automatically amount to gross misconduct and therefore will warrant summary dismissal of the employee.
They also include detailed information regarding the employees’ rights to benefits and holidays. They include the processes for reporting grievances, as well as the employer’s stance on issues such as workplace bullying and what an employee can expect in such circumstances.
It is important for employers to have a clear and informative employee handbook because it makes the employers intentions clear from the beginning and also the company objectives. Terms contained in the employee handbook often become implied terms of employee contractstherefore it is important that they properly address all the issues employers want clarified. This transparency is likely to help kerb some potential disputes from arising and save employers from wasted time and money.
What should employee handbooks contain?
What employers require to be covered in their handbook will vary from business to business and employers should consult specialist legal advice when considering creating one to ensure the handbook is comprehensive in its coverage for your individual business requirements. However, here are some main minimum aspects that can be expected to be included:
- General company and business information.
- Employee responsibilities and what standards of conduct are expected, including time keeping and attendance.
- Sickness, injury and sick pay conditions.
- Holiday entitlements and conditions.
- Disciplinary procedure and disciplinary appeal procedure.
- Grievance policy.
- Bullying and harassment in the workplace policy.
- Maternity, Paternity and Parental leave entitlements.
- Time off work to care for dependants’ policy.
- Health and Safety guidelines.
Even where the employer provides only the statutory requirements for example in relation to maternity leave, it is good practice to include this within the handbook. If employees know their entitlements at the outset, this can minimise any anxiety and a happy workforce amounts to a better workforce for employers and reduces the threat of litigation.
At John Carruthers Solicitors and Solicitor Advocates we are more than happy to provide tailored employment law advice and draft bespoke employee handbooks to suit your particular business needs.