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Employee Handbook

Last revision Last revision 2 weeks ago
Formats FormatsWord and PDF
Size Size28 to 41 pages
4.8 - 578 votes
Fill out the template

Last revisionLast revision: 2 weeks ago

FormatsAvailable formats: Word and PDF

SizeSize: 28 to 41 pages

Rating: 4.8 - 578 votes

Fill out the template

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is a detailed document used by an employer to outline the rules, practices, and procedures for the employees at the company. The handbook is used to inform employees about the standards that are expected of them. Employee handbooks are often very long, very robust documents. Despite that, however, most employee handbooks are not meant to be absolutely comprehensive guides on everything surrounding the employment relationship. Rather, they are baselines for company policies, through which employees can also find out how to access any additional information they may need.

What is the difference between an employee handbook and an employment agreement?

Though both documents are used by an employer, they are created differently and have different purposes. An employee handbook contains the rules and standards that apply to all employees in the workplace. Employees do not negotiate anything contained in the handbook. Employers are the ones who unilaterally make the policies that employees will follow.

An employment agreement is a specific contract used for just one individual and the company. The employee is involved in negotiating its terms, and it dictates the employment relationship between that employee and the employer. It includes specific details such as salary, benefits, and the scope of the position that the employee is entering into.

Is it mandatory to have an employee handbook?

No, it is not mandatory to have an employee handbook. Some employers, especially those with very few employees, may choose to have policies conveyed to employees through word of mouth. However, an employee handbook is a good idea for almost all employers, since it clearly lays out policies in writing and assures that everyone is on the same page about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

What is a "non-disclosure agreement"?

A non-disclosure agreement is a contract that means the employees must keep certain elements of their employment secret, such as trade secrets or confidential information. Employers may have a policy requiring that all employees sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of their employment.

What is a "flexible spending account"?

A flexible spending account (FSA) is a special account that employees can use to put money into for out-of-pocket healthcare costs. The money is put into the account before taxes are taken out, so it saves employees money and helps them shoulder their healthcare costs.

What is a "401K"?

A 401K is a special pre-tax investing and savings plan. A certain amount of money is automatically deducted from the employee's paycheck that they are permitted to save with deferred tax responsibilities. These types of accounts are typically used for retirement savings.

What must an employee handbook include?

A valid employee handbook must contain at least the following mandatory clauses:

  • Employer details: The employee handbook describes the employer, including their name, address, number of employees, and contact information.
  • Hourly work requirements: The employee handbook outlines the minimum number of hours an employee must work to be considered either full-time or part-time.
  • Payment: The employee handbook details when and how employees are paid for their work. This includes methods and forms of payment, as well as the timing.
  • Benefits: The employee handbook outlines any benefits that are offered to employees, such as health insurance, flexible spending accounts, or 401Ks. It describes what employees must do to qualify for these benefits as well.
  • Leave: The employee handbook specifies when and how employees may take leave from their work. It describes the process through which employees may request leave. It also details observed holidays and paid time off.

In addition to the above required information, the following information may also be included:

  • Non-disclosure agreement: The employee handbook may lay out a requirement that employees sign an NDA as a condition of their employment with the company.
  • Probationary period: The employee handbook can include a required probationary period when a new employee first begins working for the company.
  • Breaks: The employee handbook can describe policies about meals and breaks that employees take throughout the workday.
  • Performance reviews: The employee handbook may describe when employees will be subject to regular performance reviews on a specific schedule.
  • Dress code: The employee handbook can include a description of a dress code policy that employees must abide by, such as wearing certain uniforms or refraining from wearing open-toed shoes.
  • Drug testing: The employee handbook has the option of describing a drug testing policy, which includes details such as the timing of testing and the employer's discretion for conducting drug testing.
  • Jury duty: The employee handbook may specify whether the employer offers paid time off for employees who are serving their state-mandated jury duty.

Who is involved in an employee handbook?

Though an employee handbook provides regulations for employees, it is created only by the employer. If the employer has a human resources department, the head of that department is usually the one responsible for creating the handbook to reflect the preferences of the company management. Individual employees are typically not involved in the creation of the handbook and the policies it contains.

What should be done once the employee handbook is written?

When this agreement is filled out, it should be printed out and kept on file with the company. Then, each time an employee starts work with the company, the employee should be given a copy of the handbook and asked to sign the acknowledgment page. The company should keep a copy of the signed acknowledgment page, and the employee should keep the complete handbook.


Which documents should be attached to the employee handbook?

If the handbook has already written any policies or regulations that they would like to incorporate into the handbook, they may attach them to the handbook as an addendum. Going forward, if the employer creates new policies, they may also attach these to the handbook.

When and how can this document be updated by an employer?

The employer should regularly review the employee handbook to be sure that all of its rules, regulations, and policies are up-to-date and accurately reflect the current wishes of the employer. If the employer would like to add any new provisions to the handbook, they may write them separately and then include them as an attachment to the book. If the employer would like to change or remove provisions that are currently in the handbook, they should update the text of the book itself, reprint it, and distribute it to employees as needed.


Is an employee handbook binding on the employer?

Although the employer creates the employee handbook, the employer themselves are not bound to its terms and can change them at any time according to their discretion. The employee handbook is not a promise or contract of employment, but a tool to help employees learn about the rules and expectations around their employment with the employer.

Which laws are applicable to employee handbooks?

The policies contained within employee handbooks are subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The primary purpose of these laws is to ensure that employer policies are fair, non-discriminatory, and comply with required standards. Federally, the main law that applies to employee policies is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law controls things such as overtime pay, record keeping, and minimum wage requirements. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) controls employee safety in the workplace. On a state level, all states have laws that require employers to abide my state wage and hour laws. States also have individual anti-discrimination laws that apply to employment. Finally, states often require that employers offer a minimum amount of family and medical leave to employees.

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