One thing we’ve noticed with the pandemic is that employers have become more aware of the need for sound and thorough policies and procedures in their businesses. We have been contacted for a number of handbook updates but also recognize that not all businesses have the ability to pay someone to write or update their employee handbook. If you find yourself in that boat, here’s some of our best advice to make sure your handbook isn’t going to get you in trouble.
Check with Your Payroll Provider
A number of the bigger payroll providers offer free handbook templates for their clients. They even offer the addition of some state-specific policies which is fantastic and can act as a great baseline for your company policies and procedures.
Make Sure You Actually Read the Handbook
One word of caution when you download a handbook from the internet is that it may not be entirely state-specific or industry-specific. Before you roll the handbook out to your employees, make sure you read what you’re putting out there. For example, don’t roll out a handbook that states you offer four weeks of vacation time if you offer two weeks. Also, take a pause for industry-specific additions or omissions. For example, does your industry have specific safety measures that should be noted in your handbook?
Trim the Bulk
Handbooks have the reputation of being outrageously long and not often read by employees. Take this opportunity to omit policies that don’t make sense, don’t apply to your business or aren’t actually practiced. For example, does the ADA or COBRA actually apply to your business or does the handbook you downloaded have that as a place holder? Make your handbook easily accessible and an easy read for your employees.
Your handbook should always be a working document so don’t feel like you have to get it right and never update it. It’s also not going to break the bank to have an attorney or HR consultant to give it a quick look over.
Whatever method that you choose to get your handbook in tip-top shape, remember that a handbook is just as much a tool for you as the employer as it is for the employee.