October 29, 2015

The Employee Handbook and why you need one

The Employee Handbook and why you need one

 

Most of you will know that you must provide a new employee at least a minimum statement of terms and conditions within 8 weeks of them starting their employment with you, this document should contain the contractual entitlements of their employment and some of the rules that your company will work by.

But what about the rest of the guidelines and standards that you want your staff to know about? How will you communicate these policies and what is the best format…? This is where the employee handbook comes in to play.

The employee handbook is vital for any business, regardless of size and whether you have two employees or 200. It is a means of effectively sharing with your staff not only what the standards are that you want them to work too but also as the employer what your responsibilities are to them.

But what is it that you need to put in your employee handbook? Well it’s a combination of legislative employment law and your own best practice guidelines. Your handbook should be detailed and robust where you should be looking to list and explain policies and procedures such as:

General information about your company

Absence from work, such as
• Holiday
• Sickness
• Special Leave

Resolving issues in the workplace, such as
• Disciplinary
• Grievance
• Capability (underperformance)
• Harassment
• Disability

Family related rights, such as
• Maternity
• Paternity
• Adoption
• Shared Parental Leave
• Flexible Working

Health related policies, such as
• Health & Safety
• Alcohol & Drugs

Business related policies, such as
• Social Media
• Data Protection
• Email, internet, computer & software

The General section can be used to give employees an insight into your company, such as the history of the business or who the Board of Directors are, but it’s also the area you can use to explain about general topics such as the probationary period, pay arrangements, timekeeping, breaks, criminal convictions and conduct to name a few.
Once you’ve completed the General section then you can move on to your best practice policies, for example your sickness policy and procedure. This policy can be compiled to not only include statutory requirements but also your own processes such as stating trigger points, what time you require to staff to call in by when they are sick and who they need to speak to.

Finally our advice would be to always detail the legislative employment policies such as Maternity, Paternity, Flexible Working and Shared Parental Leave etc. These are the policies that you are obliged to provide to your staff of which there can be severe consequences if you don’t or refuse to adhere to the legislation.

As a business, of any size – large or small, the employee handbook is a really useful tool that can be used to demonstrate to staff that you are professional, you have thought about what standards you expect your employees to work by and you acknowledge your responsibilities.

Of course there is another element to having one…protection.  As an employer at some point you may find yourself having to deal with a difficult situation or even worse in an employment tribunal, and having an employee handbook will help you manage those situations and evidence that you have sound and compliant policies that you followed to the T leaving no room for ambiguity.

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