All About Employee Handbooks Part 2 - Human Resources Hero

All About Employee Handbooks Part 2

This article is the second in our two part series on employee handbooks. Here we will cover where and how to include policies on employee pay and benefits in your handbook as well as how to write policies on general employee rules such as attendance, health and hygiene and many other topics. This article is not meant to replace an HR professional in writing your handbook and professional help is available if you need it.

Employee handbook pay policies

In part one, we covered policies about your employee’s rights and protections and employee conduct and discipline. In addition to these,  good employee handbooks will also have a section that covers the details of your compensation practices. You’ll want to define your 168 hour work week for purposes of tracking employee time and whether or not they are entitled to overtime. Many employers set the workweek to start on Sunday morning at 12 a.m. and end Saturday at midnight but that doesn’t necessarily have to be your workweek.  You also want to clearly state when paydays are and how your pay periods work in your employee handbooks. This is also the place to include any instructions for timekeeping that you’re expecting employees to follow, such as when and how to clock in or instructions for using the timesheet.

 You’ll also want to establish overtime rules. These rules vary by state, so make sure you are familiar with your local laws. If you choose to do so, you may state that all overtime must be approved by a supervisor. Conversely, you can say that no approval is required for overtime. Be careful with rules limiting overtime though because you never want to say that unauthorized overtime won’t be paid. You always have to pay overtime if worked,  but you can discipline an employee who worked unapproved overtime if you have such a policy in your employee handbooks.

Featured Resource:

2020 HR Services Pricing Guide

This guide is full of straightforward independent information to help you get the right service and price for your company.

Next, you may want to put something about performance evaluations, if you do them. Don’t put a section on performance evaluations in the handbook just because you aspire to do them in the future as a policy could be construed as a promise to employees that you’re going to review them on a regular basis and this could be held against you in the future. If you do not offer evaluations leave them out of the handbook.  

Employee handbook benefits and leave

The next section of your handbook is fairly straightforward and covers employee benefits and leave policies. This is where we’re going to include any information about paid time off programs. That could be personal time off, vacation, or anything else you choose to call it. We also will talk about sick leave here if we offer it (again check your local requirements) We’ll also get into things like jury leave and voting leave and a number of other leaves that might be required by state law. Many states have a handful of leaves they require that are not required federally. For example, voting leave is required in almost every state in some fashion or another.  These leaves are not necessarily paid but they are protected.

Employee handbook health and safety

Next, you will want to include some policies related to health and safety. Most companies want some kind of no smoking policy. A drug and alcohol policy certainly belongs in your handbook as well. You also want to address workers comp, accident reporting, driving safety, and workplace violence. While these policies aren’t required in your handbook by law, they will allow you to enforce these rules and limit your liability significantly.

You may also want to talk about office closures. If your office will be closed because it’s too dangerous for employees to get to work, you can explain what you want them to do. And whether or not office closures will qualify for PTO etc.

Employee handbook workplace guidelines

The Last section of most employee handbooks is titled “Workplace Guidelines” and this is a bit of a catch-all and includes a lot of important information. Here you address meal and rest periods. Although the federal government has almost nothing to say about this, most states do, so chances are there some fairly specific state requirements that you’ll probably want to cover in the handbook. Also, consider including your policy with respect to the federal law that requires lactation accommodation. This is also the place for your attendance and tardiness policy. Generally, employers want to be pretty specific with this one, so make sure you spend some time with it. You may also want to include personal appearance and hygiene policy, electronic access and usage, social media rules, parking, and anything else that needs to be universally communicated to your employees.

Featured Resource:

2020 HR Services Pricing Guide

This guide is full of straightforward independent information to help you get the right service and price for your company.

Finally, it may be wise to include a section on employee termination. For example, how should an employee resign. You also might want to mention what to do with company property in the event an employee leaves. Please remember that no policy should ever say final checks will be withheld until the property is returned. This should never happen in policy or practice.

Always end your employee handbook with an acknowledgments page. You want a page at the end of your handbook that says “I’ve read this handbook, I understand this handbook, I agree to follow the policies within it”. We strongly recommend giving employees time to read the handbook on their first or second day of work during the workday.  This practice is absolutely necessary for hourly employees, but even exempt employees who don’t necessarily need to be paid will benefit from dedicated time to go over these policies.  

A final word of caution: having policies in your handbook that you don’t plan to enforce can be more dangerous than having no policies at all. Always make sure you’re enforcing your policies consistently and fairly across the board to avoid a discrimination complaint.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

More To Explore

Outsource HR Department | Human Resources Hero
HR Services

Why You Might Outsource Your HR Department Instead of Hire In-House

Why do almost 50% of businesses fail within the first 5 years? One reason is neglecting their HR functions. Companies which ignore their HR are likely to face compliance issues and have lousy hiring practices, high turnover rates, and a toxic work environment. All these issues hurt their bottom line. Research shows that businesses with

How Small Businesses Can Improve Their HR Efficiency | Human Resources Hero
Best Practices

How Small Businesses Can Improve Their HR Efficiency

Knowing how to improve HR efficiency can be highly beneficial for small businesses. Your human resources department might not only handle payroll functions but have myriad other responsibilities, too. Frequently only one or two people handle all HR tasks, leading more strategic HR initiatives to take a back seat. Making a more efficient Human Resources

Scroll to Top