An employee or company handbook is a manual which tells employees everything they need to know about their workplace. It contains information about company policies and procedures, rules, codes of practices, and simple explanations of employment law.
It is not a legal requirement to provide employees with a handbook. However, it is an easy way for employees to understand what is expected of them in the workplace. It also eliminates the risk of a misunderstanding causing conflict later on.
While every employee handbook will be different based on the size of the company, the industry and sector they are involved in, there are fundamental basics most employee manuals should include:
• Welcoming note and information for new employees
• History, background and company culture
• Code of conduct
• Dress code
• Expected hours of work
• Health and safety guidelines
• Training and development
• Leave provisions
• Pay and benefits
• Standards of performance
• Company rules
• Termination of employment
• Use of company vehicles
Aside from these basic guidelines, an employee handbook will have policies and procedures specific to the company, such as:
• Bullying and harassment policy
• Absence and sick leave
• Equal opportunity policy
• Use of internet, email and social media policy
• Use of company property policy
• Appraisal procedure
• Management of performance procedure
• Resignation procedures
Employee handbooks are a valuable resource for new and current members of staff. They clearly explain the rules and guidelines, along with the expectations of their behaviour and performance in the workplace.
For new employees, they will have limited knowledge about the company and how the business works. An introductory handbook is a welcoming gesture enabling them to become accustomed to their new company.
For existing employees, handbooks keep them updated on changes to company policies and refreshes their knowledge on existing guidelines. Staff handbooks should be available as a free resource at all times in the workplace.
Employee handbooks are not a substitute for employee contracts, and should be treated differently. Although, the information in employee contracts and handbooks should also be consistent and easy to understand.
It is important for handbooks to include rules and guidelines the company is capable of upholding. Employers should think carefully about the kind of achievable policies and procedures during the company’s day-to-day activities.
Over time, an employee manual may need amending to cater for changes in the business. This may occur as the result of new technology being adopted, updates to New Zealand workplace legislation or changes in the culture of the company.
Regardless of these amendments, employers need to make sure the information is relevant and up-to-date with employment laws.
For peace of mind in developing an employee handbook, and implementing it with confidence, employers should contact Employsure on 0800 675 700 day or night.