By the book: the whys and hows of employee handbooks.
An employee handbook An employee handbook (or employee manual) details guidelines, expectations and procedures of a business or company to its employees.
Employee handbooks are given to employees on one of the first days of his/her job, in order to acquaint them with their new company and is a valuable communications tool that sets forth an organization's personnel policies, procedures, practices, and benefits. Written policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental help reduce employee misunderstandings about what is expected of them. They also promote the consistent application of policies from department to department. An employee handbook is an excellent tool for orienting new employees, and it is a useful resource for long standing employees who inevitably have questions or need additional information about organizational policies.
Public financial managers are finding that personnel matters are consuming more and more of their time. These managers can save time and frustration by familiarizing fa·mil·iar·ize
tr.v. fa·mil·iar·ized, fa·mil·iar·iz·ing, fa·mil·iar·iz·es
1. To make known, recognized, or familiar.
2. To make acquainted with. themselves with their employee handbooks. Where such handbooks do not exist, finance officers can take the lead in encouraging their development. This article identifies the types of information that should be included in an employee handbook, so as to help those jurisdictions that are in the process of either developing a new handbook or improving an existing one.
STATEMENTS AND DISCLAIMERS
Employee handbooks are important not only for what they say, but also for what they don't say. Because a poorly written employee handbook can create liability for an employer, the following statements and disclaimers should be included in any handbook:
1. The employee handbook does not create a contract, express or implied. In the absence of such language, several court decisions have found the wording in an employer's handbook to be a binding employment contract.
2. The organization reserves the right to revise or rescind To declare a contract void—of no legal force or binding effect—from its inception and thereby restore the parties to the positions they would have occupied had no contract ever been made.
rescind v. any policy at any time. As the organization grows, new government regulations are enacted, and department policies are revised, the organization needs the flexibility to update its policies.
3. The organization reserves the right to interpret the information presented. No matter how concisely policies are written, it is inevitable that employees will misinterpret mis·in·ter·pret
tr.v. mis·in·ter·pret·ed, mis·in·ter·pret·ing, mis·in·ter·prets
1. To interpret inaccurately.
2. To explain inaccurately. them from time to time. The organization should therefore clearly indicate that it has the right to make the final decision as to the interpretation and intent of all information presented in the employee handbook.
4. If the organization has union employees, there should be a statement indicating that where information presented in the employee handbook conflicts with an expressed or explicit provision of the collective bargaining agreement The contractual agreement between an employer and a Labor Union that governs wages, hours, and working conditions for employees and which can be enforced against both the employer and the union for failure to comply with its terms. , the collective bargaining agreement is controlling.
FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REGULATIONS
All employee handbooks should address applicable federal, state, and local laws pertaining per·tain
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.
2. to employment-related matters. Federal and state laws that should be addressed include the following:
Equal Employment Opportunity laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. civil-rights law, enacted 1990, that forbids discrimination of various sorts against persons with physical or mental handicaps. (ADA Ada, city, United States
Ada (ā`ə), city (1990 pop. 15,820), seat of Pontotoc co., S central Okla.; inc. 1904. It is a large cattle market and the center of a rich oil and ranch area. ). The employee handbook should send a strong message that the organization does not discriminate against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or any other protected class Protected class is a term used in United States anti-discrimination law. The term describes groups of people who are protected from discrimination and harassment. The following characteristics are considered "Protected Classes" and persons cannot be discriminated against based on .
Sexual harassment sexual harassment, in law, verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, aimed at a particular person or group of people, especially in the workplace or in academic or other institutional settings, that is actionable, as in tort or under equal-opportunity statutes. . Because of several recent Supreme Court rulings on sexual harassment, it is more important than ever that employers have a comprehensive policy addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. The policy should define and provide examples of the two types of sexual harassment and specify the procedures for filing a complaint. It should state in no uncertain terms that all complaints will be thoroughly investigated and that those found to be in violation will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. The policy should also assure employees that they will not be retaliated against for filing a complaint.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA FMLA Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
FMLA Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance ). All public agencies-regardless of size--are covered by the FMLA. The employee handbook is a great tool for distributing and communicating this policy to all employees.
EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS AND BENEFITS
The employee handbook should define what constitutes full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employment. Most employers distinguish between these employment classifications for the purpose of determining which employees are eligible for benefits.
Employee benefits are of high interest to most employees. The employee handbook should therefore include a brief description of all the benefits offered by the organization. Only general information should be provided, such as which employment classifications are eligible for a particular benefit and the waiting period, if any, before becoming eligible to participate. Employees should be advised to contact the plan administrator or to refer to the plan documents for more specific information about each benefit.
OPERATIONAL AND ATTENDANCE POLICIES
The employee handbook should address the organization's operational policies, including hours of operation, meal and break periods, and emergency closings. The handbook should also delineate policies on tardiness Tardiness
comic strip character; chronically late at the office. [Comics: “Blondie” in Horn, 118]
ten o’clock scholar
schoolboy who habitually arrives late. [Nurs. and absences, military leave, jury leave, medical and FMLA leaves of absence, and bereavement Bereavement Definition
Bereavement refers to the period of mourning and grief following the death of a beloved person or animal. The English word bereavement leave. These policies should address the procedure for notifying the organization of absences, identify which employment classifications are eligible for time off, and specify whether the time off is paid or unpaid.
The compensation section of an employee handbook should include information on the following topics: pay period and payday, payroll deductions, overtime pay, and compensatory time compensatory time
Time off given to an employee in place of overtime pay.
Noun 1. compensatory time - time off that is granted to a worker as compensation for working overtime .
If employees are expected to follow the policies and procedures set forth in the employee handbook, they should be notified of the consequences for violating those policies. The following policies relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc employee conduct should be addressed in an employee handbook:
* Civil service regulations pertaining to discipline (if applicable in your state)
* Corrective and progressive discipline
* Code of ethics Code of Ethics can refer to:
THE FINAL PRODUCT
Once the initial draft of the employee handbook has been written, it should be proofread for accuracy and for compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Check all policies for consistency and make sure that no contradictory information is presented. Sentences should be clear and concise. Long sentences should be broken down into bulleted bul·let·ed
Highlighted or set off with bullets: a bulleted list. lists whenever possible.
Because a thorough employee handbook can be 50 pages or more in length, it is important that it be user-friendly. The font size should be large enough so that employees won't have to strain their eyes as they're reading. A table of contents, bulleted lists, charts, and tables are also recommended for ease of use.
Once the handbook is finalized and ready for distribution, employees should be required to sign an acknowledgment form stating they have received a copy of the employee handbook. The signed acknowledgment form should be placed in each employee's personnel file.
An employee handbook is a valuable communications tool for all organizations, regardless of size. As such, it is important to invest the necessary amount of time and effort to write a handbook that is accurate, complies with all government regulations, and is easy for employees to read.
OTHER TOPICS TO BE CONSIDERED FOR INCLUSION IN AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
Performance appraisal Performance appraisal, also known as employee appraisal, is a method by which the performance of an employee is evaluated (generally in terms of quality, quantity, cost and time).
Civil service system (if applicable in your state)
Change in status (e.g., changes in name, address, telephone number)
Driver license requirements
Personnel files and record-keeping Personal appearance and dress code Substance free workplace
Substance testing policy
Smoking in the workplace
Personal telephone and cell phone use Computer systems and Internet policy
Personal use of supplies, tools, and equipment
Expense and mileage reimbursement
Solicitation by employees and non-employees
Hazard communication program
Public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most
Dispute resolution procedures
RONNI M. TRAVERS is senior vice president in the Municipal Consulting Division of AMTEK Human Resource Consultants.