Yes, all companies should develop an employee handbook, which can be very important to a company’s health. A well-drafted employee handbook sets forth guidelines for both employees and management in their relationships with one another and with customers. It’s very valuable for employees to know that there are consistent policies and procedures in place to guide their interactions, as well as to minimize misunderstandings.

Employee handbooks offer benefits to both employers and employees. For employees, they give standards of conduct, and let the employees know what the employer expects. Handbooks also provide every employee the same information about a workplace, so that every employee has notice of every policy that applies to them. Employer handbooks can provide legal protection to employers if an employee ever challenges an employer in court about a particular policy.   Simply put, it provides notice about what the rules are that govern the work place.

There are many subjects that are commonly covered in an employee handbook. Some of the subjects typically included in an employee handbook are compensation and benefits, working hours, general employment information, anti-discrimination policies, public relations, technology, standards of conduct, mission and purpose of the business, drugs & alcohol abuse, smoking, safety and security, electronic communications, confidentiality, harassment, and discipline.

There are also some important things not to say in an employee handbook. One is a very strict disciplinary policy. Although most employee handbooks do list disciplinary policies and procedures, it’s a good idea to leave some flexibility to account for individual situations. If a handbook is too rigid, it may become difficult to fire an employee for horrendous conduct or to keep a valuable employee around who commits several minor policy violations.

Another thing that should not be included in an employee handbook is any type of guarantee of future employment. Although the company may be growing by leaps and bounds and doing very well financially, including language in the handbook that promises continued employment as long as an employee is working hard and abiding by the rules could be viewed as an employment contract by a court. Instead, put specific language reserving the right to let an employee go at any time for any reason (except an unlawful reason).

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employees should have the right to know what to expect from their workplace, and an employment handbook is an opportunity to do that. If you are in the Oakland – San Francisco Bay area, including Hayward, Berkeley, Fairfield, Tracy, Fremont, Concord or San Jose and you are creating an employment handbook, legal issues may arise. Call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment law attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000.

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