Generally, having an employee handbook or policy manual is a good business practice and from a legal standpoint there are good reasons why to create one. As many business owners know, it only takes one employee to cause you problems and the problems multiply exponentially with the more employees you have. By having an employee handbook or policy manual you can protect yourself and your business.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you need an employee handbook:
- Get Employees to Behave in a Certain Way: A handbook should outline for employees how to behave and perform and what will happen if they fail to meet those expectations. A handbook should also inform employees about how they can succeed in their jobs. This provides employees with a clear understanding of their responsibilities and what is expected of them.
- Having the Same Rules for All Employees: This generally makes running the business easier. Employees want to know that they are being treated the same way as other employers. The perception of unfair treatment can lead to disgruntled employees and, ultimately, to lawsuits.
- Lets Employees Know Where to Turn for Help: Ultimately, you want employees to feel comfortable turning to a trusted member of management for help when they want to report workplace violations, get workplace-related assistance, and get answers to any other questions they may have. The alternative is for them to turn to an outside third party, like the EEOC or DOL, which could trigger a costly and time-consuming investigation.
- Shows Your Compliance with Federal and State Laws: No matter what state you do business in, or how many employees you have, you will be subject to state and federal employment laws. Your handbook not only communicates these various entitlements and obligations to employees, but is useful in demonstrating that your organization strives to be compliant with these regulations.
- Helps Defend Against Employee Claims: In case the need arises, a well-written handbook is the first step of a successful defense of unemployment or other legal claims. In California, winning an unemployment claim requires proof that the terminated employee was on notice of a certain rule and had been warned that violating the rule would lead to disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination.
Likewise, many employment lawsuits hinge on consistent treatment of employees and/or ensuring that employees were on notice of important company policies and procedures. The page of the handbook containing the applicable policy, as well as the signed acknowledgement form, should be critical to the defense of unemployment or other legal claims. Certainly, you can expect that these documents will be exhibits in any litigation and can help you win or at least minimize damages.
Contact a lawyer at Mentis Law Group to review or write your handbook. An attorney at Mentis Law can check the handbook for language, for conflicting or confusing language, ensure compliance with state and federal laws and for legal issues. We are here to help you protect your business.