Human Resource (HR)
Category: General HR
Employee Handbooks :Should I or Shouldn’t I??
Employers often wonder whether they should have an employee handbook. If you decide to have an employee handbook:
- It should have legal review from your attorney before implementing.
- It should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis based on changes in actual practice, business needs and changes in employment law. Employees should be notified in writing prior to making changes to any policies.
- You and your supervisors should know, understand and follow the policies in your employee handbook. One of the elements of a wrongful discharge is failure by employers to follow their own written policies, as outlined in their Employee Handbook.
- All employees should be given a copy of the handbook with instructions to read the handbook and ask for clarification, if needed.
Consistency in following your own policies is very important to protect your business against allegations of discrimination or wrongful discharge. If you don’t follow your own written policies, you are probably better off not having an employee handbook. However, keep in mind even without a handbook, your employees can still file wrongful discharge and/or human rights complaints, if they perceive they are being treated unfairly and inconsistently.
A well-written handbook can create a positive image for your business and can be useful as a consistent tool for informing employees about your philosophies, expectations, policies and procedures. In some cases, not communicating this information leads to confusion and hard feelings among your employees.
If you decide to use an employee handbook, seek legal advice from an attorney before finalizing your handbook. You don’t want a document that will tie your hands or weaken a court case because of wording. Reading a handbook can instill a sense of pride, trust and fairness or it can instill a sense of suspicion, and threats. Employees who feel they are treated fairly are more likely to be motivated and loyal. A threatening tone can “undo” any good you are trying to achieve.
Contributors include: Patricia Bik (firstname.lastname@example.org), Barb Hardy (email@example.com), Barb Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dave Laber (email@example.com), Kay Strayer (firstname.lastname@example.org), HR Laws (hrlaws.com), Human Rights Bureau (erd.dli.mt.gov/humanright/hrhome.asp), Policies Now (hrtools.com), WorkSafeMT (worksafemt.com), SHRM (shrm.org)
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