Some Final Thoughts on Employee Handbooks   Leave a comment

In writing an employee handbook which will help to give your company the greatest advantages that it is entitled to, extreme caution must be exercised to avoid creating contractual rights for employees via the employee manual. Don’t promise anything that you don’t specifically want to promise, if you are not required to do so by law (obviously, paid time off and benefits are perks that you specifically do want to offer your employees in order to be competitive – but promising a certain disciplinary procedure prior to termination is probably not). Employee handbooks have been construed as employment agreements by some courts, so it is important to make it clear that employment remains “at will”, and that policies may be changed at any time.

Once you commit your employment and workplace policies to paper, you must follow them. This will require some level of management training, the formality of which will depend on the size of your organization. Each employee who is responsible for managing subordinates should, at a minimum, read the handbook from cover to cover, and understand how to handle employee complaints. The importance of following these procedures should be emphasized to all employees.

Finally, make sure that every employee receives the handbook and acknowledges receipt in writing. Any time a policy is changed, all employee should acknowledge that change. If your company has employees who don’t have computer access, hard copies of the employee handbook should be accessible in convenient locations in the workplace. It should be clear that the company does, and intends everyone to, follow the policies and procedures set forth in the manual. A written policy only works if it is understood and enforced.


• Don’t use your Employee Handbook against yourself – it should not create obligations unintentionally!

• Use “at will” language throughout

• Follow your policies, and train your employees

• Keep records of who has received the handbook

By: Eadaoin Waller, a senior associate in our Corporate Department


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