When you are building your business, you should think about creating an employee handbook once you start hiring employees. Without one, you can have a harder time enforcing employee rules and you even could face legal problems down the road.
Yet the thought of creating your employee handbook probably is a bit overwhelming. What should you include in it?
There are some essential areas you should cover, including the following:
1. Defining employment as at-will, full-time, part-time or contract.
You’ll need to specify how many hours will count toward full-time employment and remind employees that Texas is an at-will employment state. That means unless the employee has a specific contract, their job can end at any time.
2. Laying out your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
You’ll need to state that your company has zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment of other employees and give examples of situations where someone violates the company policy. You’ll also need to address how employees should make complaints about discrimination and harassment and how your business will handle complaint investigations.
3. Detailing your employee conduct policies.
This can include whether you’ll be requiring drug and alcohol testing, what your workplace rules are, what your workplace dress code is and what your violence and weapons policy is. Again, you’ll need to add clear examples so employees will understand how to avoid violating the policies.
4. Establishing the time frame for a normal workweek, how employees earn vacation time (and how they earn much over a year), how employees qualify for overtime and/or bonuses or commissions.
You also need to address how you expect employees to be punctual, whom they should report absences to, if you’ll offer bereavement leave (and when) and how employees qualify for FMLA or military leave.
5. Establishing that employees shouldn’t expect privacy while using work phones or email.
As part of this, detail your business’ social media expectations, at work and outside of work (if that applies).
6. Detailing how employees will be terminated.
You’ll need to include information on how employees will be terminated, if they will have an exit interview, if they will receive pay for unused vacation time and if the company will offer severance pay.
7. Providing your employees a spot to acknowledge they have received, read and understand the employee handbook.
This can help establish that if an employee later violates policy, they were aware of what your policies were.
Running a business is a big endeavor. You would be wise to work with a business law attorney in crafting your employee handbook and any employee contracts. You want to ensure you’ve protected your business as much as you can from future legal problems.