As an employer, your employee handbook is one of the most essential tools in your arsenal. This simple booklet can save you a lot of time answering the same questions over and over again simply by detailing your company’s policies, practices and employee benefits all in one place. By investing some time into your employee handbook, you can effectively communicate what an employee should expect from your company, and what you expect from them. But when you sit down to write your employee handbook, where on earth do you start? As a starting point, we recommend covering the following areas in your handbook: 
General Employment Information 
 
This section should cover all of the basic rules for employment with your company, and what you expect from employees. Remember, this is general, as every employee will get one of these, so save the specifics for the contracts. Make sure you lay out the basic policies around employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, records, job postings, termination and resignation procedures, transfers, relocation and union information if you have one. 
 
Working Schedules 
 
Here, make it clear what your company’s policies are regarding work hours and schedules. Include detail on things like overtime and how it’s allocated and paid, as well as any options for flexible working you offer. You should also lay out your policies regarding attendance, punctuality and reporting absences, along with the consequences for breaching those policies. If you allow telecommuting or flexible working, you can detail your policies and guidelines for them here too. 
 
Standard Of Conduct 
 
An important section to include is standard of conduct, which should cover everything about how you want your employees to conduct themselves while representing your business or acting within it. This includes dress codes, telephone and computer use rules, clearly defined smoking procedures (e.g. cover up all company logos while smoking) and any general behaviour you want to include. You should also remind employees of their legal obligations when it comes to conduct. For example, how should they handle confidential data? You can also include a description of your company’s disciplinary procedures and complaints procedures here in clear and plain English, so there is always a reference point. 
 
Anti-Discrimination Policies 
 
As an employer, you have a legal obligation to comply with anti-discrimination regulations. So, you should have a section of your employee handbook to explain what those obligations mean, and what you’re doing to meet them. You can then explain how you expect employees to behave to comply with these laws, and detail how to report anything they view as breaking them. It’s also a good place to talk about your sexual harassment policy, affirmative action policies (such as mandatory training) and other policies. 
 
Leave/Leaving Policies 
 
Your leave policies for employees should be carefully documented, especially the leave you’re required to give by law. This section of your handbook not only covers employees who wish to leave (notice periods etc.) or need to be terminated by the employer, but also the policies for temporary leave you might grant. Explain the statutory holiday for employee, plus details of any extra you choose to give as standard. Also include bereavement, emergency leave, maternity, paternity, jury duty, military leave and sick leave. Give details around what pay (if any) is given for each type of leave, along with the requirements that employees need to meet for them - for example 4 days off sick with a note from a doctor. 
 
Benefits 
 
Don’t worry though, it’s not all serious doom and gloom! You should also give information on any benefits your employees may enjoy. If you provide any insurances, private medical care, company cars, pensions, commission or bonuses, detail all of those here. You might want to separate these out to explain which are statutory, and which are additional benefits your company chooses to give. 
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