A vast majority of businesses have an employee handbook. Small businesses are no exception. This seemingly long document can provide crucial information for your employees. From establishing expectations to listing violations, your employee handbook has key components. Today, we’ll be breaking down a few of those components.
When was the last time you read an employee handbook? As an employee, what were your expectations? As an employer, what information do you need to share? Generally, employee handbooks are where employees can find information they need outside of performing their jobs. For example, information such as the sexual harassment policy, overtime policy, and safety expectations are found in this document. Also, the legality of certain sections could save your company future issues.
Before we continue, the information contained in this article is not a replacement for personalized legal advice and services. Laws and regulations can change at any time. As a best practice, consult a law group that can keep you up to date.
Essential Components Of A Handbook
Each section of your employee handbook is intended to protect either your employees, your business or both. As the face of your business, the necessity of writing an effective employee handbook may seem overwhelming. Not all employees want to read the employee handbook. For this reason, the readability and transparency of this guide book are essential to enforcement.
Thankfully, there are services that can complete this document for you to the full extent of the law. Regardless, the following sections should be included. They serve as a protective or proactive legal authority for the workplace. While you are not legally required to have an employee handbook, you are required to inform your employees of certain rights. It just so happens, these rights are usually delivered in the employee handbook.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require that you inform your employees of their right to a safe work environment. This includes several safety disclosures for the employee, and what they can do if your business is in violation. Your employees can cause OSHA violations if they are not careful. Because this would essentially hurt your business, sharing this information at the time of hire is important. Early enforcement ensures you remain in compliance. This could save you from investigations, law suits, or business shut down.
Florida is a work at-will state. Business owners must legally inform employees if their employment is considered at-will. This means that at any time, you or your employee may terminate the employment without prejudice. Of course, that does not mean that an employee may come and go at-will. Included in this section should be a clause that holds details for re-hires.
Time and Attendance
This section typically includes the time required of both full-time and part-time employees. Florida Law says an employee should know what constitutes hours worked and overtime. Any discipline actions that may follow in accordance to attendance violations should be detailed here. Generally, include a clause stating that disciplinary measures may change based on the severity of a violation. One off situations may require you to exercise greater action.
How Often Should It Change?
Your employee handbook should be a living document. Meaning, changes should be made whenever they are necessary. As your company grows, your employee handbook should evolve to match it. Likewise, any changes in laws that affect your business operations will need to be reflected in that document. But, how should you share these updates with your employees?
In the long run, an electronic or digital version of your handbook would be easier to maintain. Each time the handbook is updated, email a notice to your employees with a link or the handbook attached. As a rule, your employees should never feel like they can’t find the employee handbook. Transparency and availability are needed as proactive measures to future issues. As they arise, the employee handbook acts as a reference for disciplinary and/or legal action.
An employee handbook encompasses so much more than just the sections listed. It should match your business and suit it’s needs. Remember, documents like the employee handbook are measures of protection for yourself and your employees. Dowd Law can make sure that these documents meet your needs and satisfy any legal precursors. Contact us today to get started on the road to success.