How to Write an Employee Handbook


Your employees are a vital part of your success. You must treat them fairly and with respect in order to keep them. An employee handbook creates a framework for your employees by laying out the rules regarding how they can expect to be treated by you and what you will expect of them. There are also many legal issues that can be addressed by an employee handbook which may prevent or deter potential legal problems related to employee problems.

Consider these points before beginning your employee handbook:

  • There are many items to include in a handbook that may be required by State and Federal law, therefore you should contact your attorney to discuss what you are required to disclose.
  • Also, be careful to avoid using any words or phrases throughout your handbook that directly state or could imply an employment contract or lifetime employment.
  • Supplement your employee handbook with good record keeping and ask each employee to sign a document stating that they have received and understand the employee handbook.

Try to include as many of the following sections in your handbook that are applicable to your business:

  • Mission statement
  • Company values - such as honesty, good customer service, respect, etc.
  • Company history
  • Suggestion and complaint policies and procedures
  • Temporary or probationary periods
  • Normal working hours with overtime guidelines
  • Normal vacation policy
  • Attendance policy including sick days, disability and leaves of absence
  • Drug and alcohol policy
  • Sexual harassment policy
  • Resignation or termination policy
  • Non-discrimination policy
  • Email policy
  • Employee safety program and/or policy
  • Workers compensation
  • Payroll policies including layoffs, garnishments, and paydays
  • Wage increases and performance reviews
  • Benefits including holidays, insurance (life, disability and medical), retirement programs and training

Make sure to include disclaimers at the beginning and end of the handbook written by your attorney. The disclaimers should address the employee handbook not being an employment contract and that you retain the right to change any company policies.

No employee handbook is complete but a thorough handbook and good record keeping can address many of the problems that you may face with your employees and establish a foundation for the personal success of your employees and the success of your business.