If you’re a small business, compiling an employee handbook can seem like a rather fruitless task. Surely you can verbally communicate your company policies and ethos with your staff, and isn’t it a costly exercise? The answer is not always. Whilst it’s not a legal requirement, an employee handbook not only informs your staff of their legal rights, but more importantly, helps to protect your business.
The reasons why your business should have a handbook in place:
- Communicates your company ethos
This is essential for new employees and a great way to introduce them to your business. Handbooks can be used to set out your company vision and values, and get buy-in from new starters from the outset.
- Helps staff to understand their role in your business
Not only will it give staff a clear understanding of where the business is heading, but will let them know where they fit, what is expected of them and what isn’t tolerated. Provide a company structure so that new starters can see the management structure and understand who they report into. By setting out your company rules from the outset, this should eliminate confusion further down the line and help avoid potential HR issues.
- Explains company policies and procedures
Whilst it shouldn’t replace your policies, it will summarise key company policies such as:
- Holiday requests
- Rules around sickness and absence
- Dress and behavioural codes of conduct (including drug and alcohol policy, social media, phone, email and internet policies)
- Dismissal and disciplinary procedure
- Equal opportunities policy
- Grievance procedure
- Health and safety
- Maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave
- Data protection
- Boosts morale
The staff handbook is also a good place to detail your company benefits and add-ons you may offer staff, such as flexible benefits schemes or bonuses.
- Protects your business against claims
If your business should face a legal claim from an employee, your employee handbook will serve as a useful document in your defence. It will demonstrate that your business had policies and procedures in place at the time of the claim.