Employee handbooks (also known as policy manuals or employment manuals) seem like a lot of work for a document that some people don’t read. In fact, an employee handbook is a very useful resource for an employer to communicate policy and set expectations for relationships within the work environment. What kind of culture do you want to cultivate? How do you want your employees and supervisors to handle dispute and disagreement?
Handbooks can also provide a clear set of policies and procedures with respect to employee work time, vacation or sick leave time, use of benefits, and a whole host of other day-to-day employment expectations.
A clearly written and routinely updated handbook that has been signed and dated in acknowledgment by the employee also serves as a useful tool in defending against employment-related claims. Not only does a consistently applied policy, as reflected in a handbook, provide a useful resource in defending against employee complaints to state agencies, it also benefits employers facing a jury. Juries like to see a policy in writing.
By contrast, a poorly written handbook is likely a detriment to an employer’s defense in litigation or state agency investigation. Similarly, if an employer fails to apply a policy consistently, there is a greater likelihood of facing a discrimination or other employment-related claim.
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