Basic policy advice for employee handbooks
Before you start your business, you should strongly consider drafting an employee handbook. Even if you believe your company is too small, a handbook is probably a good idea if you have employees. Handbooks help prevent misunderstandings at work, put everyone on an equal playing field and set realistic expectations for the workplace.
There are several things you should put into an employee handbook. The items below are not exhaustive, but it is an excellent place to start thinking about your business’s needs.
Attendance is an area that needs to be clear from the start. Unfortunately, many employees will take advantage of a lazy attendance policy. Make your expectations clear from the beginning and create a penalty system for missing work without a valid excuse.
There are federal and state laws against discrimination. Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21 protects any person from discrimination by their employer for reasons of race, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age. Your handbook should reflect this policy and clarify that your business will not tolerate discrimination.
Companies should have a disciplinary procedure and a list of potential offenses. This is important to avoid favoritism and the appearance of arbitrary enforcement.
You need to clarify the hiring process in the employee handbook. This includes whether you conduct background checks or drug tests before hiring. Also, if you have 20 or more employees, you need to explain the policy for COBRA notices if you must fire or lay off a worker.
An employee handbook must cover many employee rights and expectations. It should be one of the first company documents you draft because it helps avoid lawsuits and inconsistent workplace behavior.