Every company, regardless of size, should have an employee handbook. Think about it like this: The Oklahoma City Thunder play the game of basketball. They have to play by the rules of the NBA, which is the governing body and where their first set of requirements comes from. Every NBA team knows the rules of the game, but not every team has the same playbook. The team playbook lays out exactly how the Thunder is going to operate within the rules set forth by the NBA, and set their team up for success!
The same is true of your employee handbook as you enter the game of business. The governing bodies are Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, non-discrimination laws, immigration laws, etc. Those regulations apply differently based on the size of your company and the type of business you operate. Your employee handbook lines out exactly how your business will function within those rules and regulations and how you’ll run the plays necessary for your team.
Before we dive into the three basic sections every employee handbook should have, let’s talk about two critical elements of the employee handbook.
- Don’t write a policy you don’t intend to follow. Failure to follow policy creates significant risk for your company in terms of employee lawsuits or other complaints.
- Don’t finish your handbook and stick it on a shelf to collect dust. You should regularly review it, revise it, and ensure that all managers and employees are following it.
Now let’s talk about the three basic sections that every employee handbook should contain.
Section 1: What the law tells us.
Based on the size of your business, you’re subject to certain employment laws. Oklahoma is an at-will employment state, so most companies should have an at-will clause and an equal opportunity employment clause at the very least. Other legal requirements include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and compliance with immigration laws. This section of your handbook might include:
- At-will employment clause and equal opportunity employment clause
- Definition of full- and part-time employees
- Time keeping requirements and overtime eligibility
- Potentially Family Medical Leave Act eligibility and process based on number of employees and other requirements
Section 2: The teamwork elements.
This section includes the things you need to have in place based on how you plan to operate your business, including communications expectations, day-to-day requirements for employees, non-disclosures, etc.
- How you conduct background checks
- Employee evaluation process
- Performance improvement plan procedures
- Harassment policies and complaint reporting procedures
- Rules about outside employment and non-disclosure agreements
- Drug testing policy, if you choose to have one
Section 3: What’s in it for me?
This section is focused on your employees and what’s in it for them. It might include:
- Paid time off policy and company holidays
- Group health benefits and eligibility
- 401k eligibility and enrollment dates
- Other employee benefits or perks, such as flexible hours, working from home, etc.
- Employee Assistance Program contact information
These three categories together make up the playbook for how your company will play the game of business. By implementing a handbook and following the policies written in it, you can encourage good communication, increase employee engagement, and reduce risk for your company.
Need help creating or modifying your employee handbook? Why HR can help! Contact us today for more information.