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What Kind of Employee Rules Should I Establish?

  • Help inform employees about their job duties and expectations set by the employers
  • For those starting a business
  • Take advantage of a free template to establish an employee handbook

Although it may seem unnecessary if you have a small business with few workers on the payroll. But even small companies need to establish best practices, or they can be faced with unnecessary legal expenses and penalties.

Establishing an employee handbook is an important step. This resource will clearly spell out your rules, policies, and expectations on office hours, tardiness, time off, and several other issues.

Strategies in creating an employee handbook

Review all federal, state, and local regulations that apply to your company, as these should be referenced in the employee handbook. The National Labor Relations Board provides guidance on how employers should address a variety of thorny issues, such as what conduct is considered unacceptable and whether employees can use social media at work.

The language of the employee handbook shouldn’t read like a legal document. Make it clear and concise so employees can easily understand company policies and procedures when referencing the document. Be specific, as policies or rules that are too broad can cause problems.

The employee handbook will address a wide range of issues, so it’s helpful to create a summary of all policies and procedures before writing up the company’s position on each issue. Once the handbook is finalized, it should be reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that it complies with all laws.

Review the handbook periodically, at least every few years, and update as necessary. This gives you a chance to remove language on matters that have become irrelevant while also addressing emerging issues.

What the employee handbook should include

Before addressing the company’s policies and procedures, the handbook should provide a suite of introductory introduction. The Society for Human Resource Management says these include the company’s history and mission statement, an equal employment opportunity statement, a disclaimer indicating that the handbook is not a contract and that the employer reserves the right to terminate the employee, and the purpose of the employee handbook.

The policies and procedures outlined in the handbook should outline your expectations on how the business will operate and how employees will conduct themselves. It can address subjects such as work hours, timekeeping requirements, breaks for meals or other rest, the company’s dress code, and unacceptable conduct such as drug or alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, absenteeism, or violence that can result in discipline.

The handbook should also make employees aware of all company benefits. These could include health care coverage, holidays, paid time off, or retirement accounts. Companies often stipulate that certain benefits will only become available after the employee completes a probationary period.

Outline employer responsibilities, including how the company will enforce the rules established in the handbook. For example, you might issue a verbal warning for a first offense while repeated misconduct or more serious offenses could result in a written warning, suspension, or termination.

Have the employee sign a written acknowledgement that they have received the handbook.

Create an employee handbook for free

FormSwift has a free professional template allowing small business owners to create an employee handbook in less than five minutes. You can start the process here.

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