Stay Flexible: How to Write an Employee Handbook

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A way to integrate employees and to do it right, you need a well-written employee handbook.

“I think it’s important for both the employer and the employee to have a set of guidelines, a set of governance policies, to set a level of mutual expectation,” says Jon Hyman, employment law attorney. work and employment at Wickens Herzer Panza, Ohio. law office.

Hyman says the body shop employee handbook is the first and best way to communicate with new hires and set the tone. It’s also a way to protect your company down the line, should disciplinary or other issues arise, as well as a way to promote company values.

“There are all kinds of things you can encourage employees to do just by putting a policy in a manual,” he says.

Do you need to update your store’s employee handbook? Is now the time to start writing yours from scratch? Read on for more tips from Hyman on how to create an employee handbook.

As told to Mike Munzenrider

This is not a contract

Every manual should absolutely have a disclaimer reaffirming the status at will of the employees. Don’t inadvertently create a contract between employees and the company by something in your manual.

Here is what it should contain: “This is not an employment contract, you are still and will be an employee at will unless someone signs a contract for you. You may be terminated for any legal reason and you will not rely on anything in this set of guidelines as binding.

The manual is guidelines

Beyond this disclaimer, you want your employee handbook to include guidelines, not binding principles. Consider: This is first and foremost a communication tool – determine your tone, formal or informal, how you will describe the company, state your philosophy. The manual is a guide, but it can also communicate more about your store than what to do and what not to do.

Spend the money up front

Anyone can Google a blueprint for an employee handbook, and there are some wonderful starting points there, but I always caution against using them as end points. If you didn’t have your book written by a lawyer, have it reviewed by a lawyer.

Speaking from a lot of experience, it’s always cheaper to have a lawyer involved in writing from scratch than to review, edit and annotate a manual for a company. That Google book – you just don’t know who wrote it, what condition it was in, and you may run into a host of compliance issues.

Spend the money up front so you don’t have to spend it afterwards – usually it’ll be $1,500 to $2,500 up front, and if you get into litigation for an error in the book, 10 to 100 times more if you need a lawyer on the backend.

Half of the manuals I am given to review contain a simple but glaring error: they will have policies that state that employee salaries and wages are confidential, that they cannot be discussed, it is a violation of confidentiality, when it is 10,000% illegal. Politics. There is nothing profitable in hiring lawyers to fix mistakes.

Different Ways to Make Your Manual

If you are an MSO with locations in different states, there are several ways to write your manual. Do you want a different book for each state based on that state’s requirements for things like protected classes and family medical leave, or a single handbook that’s the lowest common denominator that includes all of the same policies? I’ve seen 100-page manuals with the disclaimer “If you’re in California, this policy only applies to you.” Use the same book for all stores and you might have employees in Mississippi wondering why they don’t get paid time off like California store employees. You are creating a potential conflict.

Implement policies

State policies in your manual regarding employee discounts, education and training reimbursements or whether this is covered up front. You can use the manual to encourage behavior, for example, by stating that employees can take time off to do charity work.

Policies you need

There are literally hundreds of policies you can put in your manual, it largely depends on the type of behavior you want to encourage. Again, there are policies you must put in writing no matter what: Explain how and when employees are expected to work; always explain your attendance policy; if an employee cannot report to work, explain how they should report; explain what happens if he does not show up; how overtime is calculated; and the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees.

Allow yourself flexibility

Even if your manual isn’t a contract and you’ve excluded it in the manual itself, you want to allow yourself as much flexibility as possible with the policies in it. The consequences of breaking policies can be explained as discipline, until termination.

Allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the guidelines – from an employer’s perspective, it is always helpful to build as much discretion into the document as possible.

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