Why Your Business Needs (or Should Update) a Company Handbook

A company handbook, also called a policy manual, is a must-have in today’s business climate. A handbook benefits employers and employees a like, and not having one exposes your company to risk. You may already have a handbook, but if so, it’s worth reviewing and updating regularly. The experienced business law attorneys of Rosenbaum & Taylor can work with you on drafting or updating your handbook. We will discuss recent changes in the law, how they may impact your business, and how best to accommodate them.

Written policies are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. Although some things are best left to the discretion of managers and others, there are benefits to having concrete rules. First, they help clarify the employer-employee relationship, and that between employees themselves. Second, they help avoid arbitrary decisions which can be misinterpreted and misconstrued. Finally, they help avoid abuse and provide clear guidance for handling workplace disputes.

Without a well-drafted company handbook, your company could run into a number of problems:

  • Abuse or misbehavior between superiors and subordinates
  • Accusations of racism, sexism, or other forms of discrimination
  • Creation of a hostile work environment
  • Employee dissatisfaction, from which other problems may stem
  • Lawsuits and other forms of liability

Keeping those objectives in mind, these are some basic elements every policy manual should include:

Compensation policies. Your employees need to know how often they are paid, and how bonuses and raises are given. They should understand pay schedules as well as what’s being withheld from paychecks (e.g. taxes, insurance).

Benefits policies. Companies routinely offer employment benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and retirement contributions. Employees deserve to know what these policies are – and what they are not. Without clear policies, your employees could expect benefits to which they are not entitled. Also, some benefits do not accrue until after the employee has worked a certain amount of time. Make those policies clear as well.

Vacation days, sick days, and leave policies. It’s not enough for employees to know how many days they have off for vacation or illness. Your company needs to be given ample notice before someone leaves for vacation or time off. Include the procedures necessary for workers to do so. Also include clear rules concerning maternity and other forms of leave.

Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. There are numerous federal and state prohibitions against workplace harassment and discrimination. Everyone in your company, from management to your employees, needs to be aware of them. Conflict becomes less likely when everyone knows the rules.

Prohibited conduct policies. Keeping your employees safe, and your company free from liability, requires clear policies that prohibit certain conduct. Of course, safety means something different from one company to the next. An industrial company will not have the same policies as an office environment. The policy should clarify what behavior is not acceptable, and the consequences of breaking the rules.

Complaint policies. Every business needs a consistent, organized approach to how it handles complaints about discrimination, harassment, and other problems. This includes detailed procedural steps and documenting how complaints are addressed. A well-drafted policy keeps the process objective and fair for everyone.

Performance review policies. Performance reviews help keep employees on track for raises and promotions. And, of course, they help let your employees know how they can improve their work. The ideal policy will let employees know how often performance reviews take place, and what will be discussed.

We Help Business Owners Achieve Their Best

Policy handbooks are an essential element of any business. By addressing important issues before they become problems, you can focus on growing profits and expanding your company. At Rosenbaum & Taylor, we want your business to be the best it can. Let us handle the legal work so you can spend more time making your company a success. Call us today to find out what we can do for you.

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