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Where to start with new company handbook

Your company has grown from just a few employees and family members to an expanding concern and now it's time to get serious about creating an employee handbook. Where do you start?

First, you need a good idea about what you want to achieve with the handbook. An employee handbook should prevent problems, ensure consistent treatment and provide legal protection for your company.

Keep things positive and helpful

One expert suggests that the handbook does not have to be negative - it can both protect you from litigation and still put employees at ease about working for the company. Keep the handbook focused on the goals of the company as well what it takes to keep employees happy and well-informed.

Here are some of the policies a handbook should address:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Drug, alcohol and smoking
  • Social media
  • Attendance
  • Dress code
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Expenses
  • Leave, including vacation, sick time, holidays, and maternity, paternity and compassionate leave
  • Accommodations
  • Exit policy
  • Local and state laws

Avoid being overbroad

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued guidance in 2015 that suggested employee handbooks shouldn't be overbroad when insisting on confidentiality. A policy that is too restrictive could run afoul of the law.

The NLRB also suggested that conduct rules and social media policies can be too overbroad and can impede an employee's right to concerted activities.

In all cases, experts highly recommend you have your new handbook examined by legal counsel. Not only will this help you avoid running afoul of individual rights and labor laws, but also from inadvertently creating contractual agreements.

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