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Why Should We Have an Employee Handbook?

Cover of an employee handbook

Although I’ve written quite a few posts about employee handbooks, I just realized that I never have explicitly stated why an employer should have one – thus, the topic of this post.

An employee handbook is a collection of policies, procedures and other important information that is provided to every employee. Reasons for having an employee handbook include:

  • To let every employee know what is expected of him or her on the job
  • To help ensure that employees are treated equally and appropriately
  • To reduce employee morale problems and complaints related to unstated policies or procedures
  • To reduce the risk that employees will allege unfair practices or unlawful discrimination
  • To enhance the perceived authority and appropriateness of employer decisions that are based on the handbook

Of course, an employee handbook is not a free lunch for the employer. The employer must ensure that all actions it takes concerning employees are consistent with the handbook. Furthermore, the handbook must be updated as policies, procedures, applicable laws and the like change over time.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, despite those responsibilities, an employer is far better off with an employee handbook than without one.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510 547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

  1. 4/6/2012 | 4:19 am Permalink

    I think employers should have new employees sign a form acknowledging that they have recieved an employee handbook and it should be placed in their employee file. This helps an employer when disciplining an employee, especially if the employee claims that they were never made aware of the policy they violated, which is very common in regards to tardiness and absenteeism.

    • 4/6/2012 | 5:58 am Permalink

      Agreed! The signature page is the last page of the Employee Handbook that I prepare for clients.