Writing an Employee Handbook

HR Resource
December 10, 2012 — 2,310 views  
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Writing an Employee Handbook

As a company grows in size and complexity, writing an employee handbook is essential for providing a clear line of communication between management and all levels of staff. An effective handbook spells out employer expectations as well as legal obligations and employee rights. Policies and procedures are presented in the employee handbook that address a vast array of employee issues along with strict adherence to current state, local and federal employment laws.

Employment law varies by state; however, the U.S. Department of Labor outlines federal laws that affect employment practices for all organizations. Human Resources managers should be thoroughly knowledgeable about all the specific laws that apply to their company in the state in which they are doing business.

The following are some of the most important employment policies and labor laws to consider when writing an employee handbook:

Equal Opportunity Employment and Non-Discrimination

Policies that comply with federal Equal Opportunity Employment laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment in hiring are mandatory for the employee handbook. All protected classes are described including race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability. In addition, reporting procedures as well as specific examples of prohibited behaviors should be mentioned.

At-Will Employment

Among the policies and procedures in the handbook, legal disclaimers must be posted regarding at-will employment which states that employment with the company is not a legal contract, but at-will, and my be terminated at any time without notice or cause.

Family and Medical Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act as well as state law requires that employers with at least 50 employees must provide all eligible employees with a maximum of twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave for a serious health issue, child birth or to care for a sick family member. The law covers continuation of benefits as well as guaranteed employment in the same position upon the employee’s return to work.

Workplace Safety

Adherence to federal Occupational Safety and Health Act guidelines for providing a safe work environment is imperative when writing the employee handbook. Policies and procedures for reporting safety issues including accidents, hazards, injury, and potential health problems are necessary. Regular enforcement of these policies by periodic OSHA inspections is mandatory.

Fair Labor Standards

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for standard wage and overtime pay to all eligible employees  at the federal minimum wage and overtime pay rate of one and one half times regular pay.

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