What to Include in an Employee Handbook

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Home > Articles > What to Include in an Employee Handbook

 What to Include in an Employee Handbook

Tan Chee Teik | General
April 6, 2018
​The employee handbook is a very useful document for both recruits and existing employees. It covers many aspects of what they can or cannot do in the company. 

DURING the orientation, employees are given many facts regarding employment in the company. Often there are too many things to remember so a permanent guide is given to recruits so that they can refer to it at a later stage. This guide is in the form of an employee handbook available on the intranet.

For the employee, a well-designed handbook provides a central information source comprising information such as the company’s mission and vision, employee benefits, and other important aspects of employment.

Be sure to include a disclaimer at the start of the handbook. To prevent litigation when an employee is dismissed, the disclaimer should clearly state: “This handbook is not a contract, expressed or implied, guaranteeing employment for any specific duration. The employee or employer may terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason, with or without cause of notice”.

We suggest that the handbook include sections such as:
Introduction and Welcome,
Workplace Commitments,
Company Policies and Procedures,
Attendance and Leave Policies,
Work Performance, and
Employee Benefits.

Introduction and Welcome
Start this section with a picture of the smiling chief executive officer. He/she could say a few encouraging words to the new people. Briefly describe the company’s mission, vision, history, philosophy, and core values. 

Workplace Commitments
State that the company won’t tolerate discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, and marital status.

Company Policies and Procedures
This section includes policies on the use of company property, consumption of alcohol, drug use, and use of social media. There should be statements about disciplinary action that results should these policies be infringed. You may also include confidentiality of sensitive company information, dress code, conflict of interest, intellectual property ownership, outside employment, and expense reporting.

Attendance and Leave Policies
This section clearly describes the company’s working hours, expectations and requirements for attendance at company’s events, special holidays, and policies on punctuality and absenteeism. Describe policies about leave, vacations, and anything related to time-off work.

Work Performance
Here, detail how employee performance will be assessed and what is expected of employees for satisfactory and excellent job duties. It is useful to include expectations about mutual respect, common courtesy, and consequences for insubordination. You may include the human resource department’s policies on hiring, promotions, salary increases, and overtime pay.

For industrial companies, a special section on work safety should be included.

Employee Benefits
Include employee benefits offered by the firm such as workers’ compensation, health insurance, long service awards, and disability coverage.

It is helpful if the handbook is written in an employee-friendly manner. Avoid legal language; use English that can be easily understood. Company jargon should be explained. Use short to medium length sentences. Use illustrations wherever possible. Keep the whole book concise. Employees don’t want to read an encyclopaedia. Keep the whole document to a maximum of 32 pages of A4-size. Since the document is digital, it can be easily revised periodically.

Some companies include a form to declare that the recruit has read and understood the contents of the handbook. This form must be submitted to the human resource department for filing within one month from the date of first reporting. 

At the end of the book remember to state that the policies are not cast in stone. The wordings of the paragraph could be: “The policies and guidelines included in this handbook are subject to change as the company deems appropriate and necessary. From time to time you may receive notice of new or modified policies, procedures, or benefits.”

Mr Tan Chee Teik is a freelance journalist. He is a regular contributor to M360 and Today’s Manager.

Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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