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What goes into a good Employee Handbook

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Employee handbooks are one of those things that companies often have, not because they really wanted one, but because they thought they ought to have one.

A good employee handbook is in effect a real management tool that allows manager at all levels to take action to manage the people in the business better.

The basic reasons for an employee handbook

  • Sets out the conduct standards an employee is expected to follow
  • Explains how the company will behave toward the employee
  • Explains the employee’s rights in terms of things like SSP, Maternity Pay etc
  • Gives managers clues as to how to answer employee questions
  • Perhaps most importantly, it explains how problems will be resolved

How to build a good employee handbook

Best Practice – Split it into two sections contractual and non contractual policies and procedures

This is an important stage, contracts of employment are full of rules that employees are expected to follow. The handbook is an extension of this. By splitting the handbook into two sections you are basically saying that some of the handbook’s rules are contractual and some of them aren’t. For example you may have a smoking policy in your handbook, therefore this should go into section one – making it a contractual obligation for employees for employees to follow it. Failure to do so could lead to disciplinary action etc.

The second section of the handbook is where you put all the policies employee are entitled to, not because your organisation insists, but because the law says you have to provide them. For example, many organisations follow statutory maternity leave and pay, this is described in law and the right for employees to receive this exists whether its in your handbook or not. By placing it in your handbook it helps employees understand what to do if they do get pregnant and helps your managers to appreciate what they need to do when they have a pregnant worker.

So, in summary section 1- here toy include all your working rules, section 2 are those policies provided under law.

What to include in your handbook?

Here are some examples – you can get a lot of these clauses by simply searching the web for example handbooks and they often contain these items, or you can get in touch with us and we’ll probably have something that can help.

Section1 – Contractual Policies Section 2 – Non Contractual Policies
  1. PROBATIONARY PERIOD
  2. CONFIDENTIALITY
  3. DEDUCTIONS FROM WAGES
  4. FLEXIBLE JOB DUTIES
  5. LAY OFF & SHORT TIME WORKING
  6. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
  7. CONDUCT WHILST ON COMPANY BUSINESS
  8. DRESS CODE
  9. EMAIL & INTERNET USE
  10. EXPENSES
  11. HOLIDAYS
  12. BANK/PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
  13. COMPASSIONATE LEAVE
  14. JURY SERVICE
  15. MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS
  16. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
  17. UNAUTHORISED ABSENCE/LATE RETURN
  18. MOBILE TELEPHONES
  19. PERSONAL PROPERTY
  20. SMOKING POLICY
  21. SICKNESS ABSENCE
  22. TIMEKEEPING
  23. USE OF COMPANY EQUIPMENT
  24. USE OF PERSONAL EQUIPMENT
  25. SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES
  26. HYGIENE STANDARDS
  27. USE OF COMPANY VEHICLES
  28. DRIVING STANDARDS
  29. USE OF MOBILE EQUIPMENT WHILST DRIVING
  30. OVERTIME AND ADDITIONAL HOURS
  31. RIGHTS TO SEARCH
  32. MOBILITY & WORKING LOCATIONS
  33. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
  34. TRAINING ATTENDANCE
  35. APPRAISAL AND REVIEWS
  1. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE
  2. EQUALITY POLICY
  3. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
  4. HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
  5. ADOPTION LEAVE AND PAY
  6. MATERNITY
  7. FLEXIBLE WORKING
  8. PATERNITY LEAVE
  9. PARENTAL
  10. TIME OFF FOR DEPENDANTS
  11. REDUNDANCY POLICY

Linking your contract of employment to your handbook

The final step to consider is to link your contracts and handbook together. Basically this gives you a chance to enforce your rules and policies as being contractual and important in their nature, rather than just being seen as general guides.

To do this, at the end of your contract of employment where the employee signs you add the following sentence.

“By signing below you agree to the terms and conditions contained within this contract of employment and to section 1 of the employee handbook, which together form the main conditions of your employment”.

You’ll notice that the employee does not agree to section 2 as these rights already exist, regardless of if they are in your handbook or not