"Was it in your Employee Handbook?" For those of us who have been part of unemployment hearings, we have heard this phrase many times. When the answer is "no", the case is generally closed. While Employee Handbooks can help you against unemployment claims, it is much more than that and vital to your organization.
Employee Handbooks are an important communication tool between you and your employees. Every employee receives the same information so handbooks should be well thought out and contain all aspects of the employer/employee relationship. It sets the tone for the employee's future with your company by providing information, expectations and guidelines for all of your employees.
Employee Handbooks should include Company History / Mission Statement, Compensation & Benefits, Job Descriptions, Employee Conduct Policies, Workers Compensation Policies, Time & Attendance Policies and Human Resource Laws (i.e. EOE & FMLA). Handbooks should also include pertinent company information, industry information and other state regulations and guidelines.
Because an employee handbook sets the tone for your employee, it should not be a cookie-cutter type document. While it will have need for "legal-speak" in some areas, your tone for your handbook should be positive and in plain terms. It should engage your employees as an overall part of the working relationship. The handbook should just be one part of your company's "engagement" with your employees.
Employee Handbooks have to be distributed and understood by all employees. Companies should review the material with each employee to make sure they are aware of all policies and understand them. Once the handbook is put in place, all things contained in it must be adhered to by every employee for it to have any significance.