Draft a Rock Solid Employee Handbook
Ginny Cronin, attorney at Henningson and Snoxell spoke to a room of professionals with questions on how to best protect their organization and employees through employee handbooks. If handbooks are poorly-developed or outdated, legal issues, lawsuits, and fines often follow.
Ginny highlighted the importance of tailoring employee handbooks to each specific organization: “Borrowing, googling, or Frankensteining it will result in a disaster…you may also be violating Copyright laws.”
Drafting an Employee Handbook:
- Consider the logistics of your organization: (size, number of employees, and status: full-time, part-time, or independently contracted).
- Verify the size of your workforce. It is your organization’s duty to comply with various federal, state, and local employment laws depends on the number of employees.
- Confirm whether the employee handbook will be distributed to employees in a single state or multiple states. This impacts whether the handbook must comply with one state’s law, or meet requirements in multiple jurisdictions.
- Identify the states and cities where employees work, which may differ from the physical location of the employer’s offices or headquarters. Assess the geographic locations of all employees, including any employees who work remotely, to determine which state and local laws apply. Many cities have local ordinances or laws that impose additional requirements.
If handbooks are poorly-developed or outdated, legal issues, lawsuits, and fines often follow.
2. Identify the nature of your organization (religious organization, church, non-profit etc.).
- “What is the related documentation to prove the religious nature of your organization? This information helps determine if there are specific policies relating to religious freedom that may be important to include in the employee handbook,” said Cronin.
Documentation may include:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Statement of Faith, Code of Conduct, Core Values
- Denominational documents
3. Pick the right tone.
- Use professional, yet plain language that reflects the culture of the organization.
Use professional, yet plain language that reflects the culture of the organization.
- Describe the desired conduct of employees, rather than the promised conduct of management.
- Avoid too much detail, and overly rigid policies and procedures–particularly with disciplinary rules.
- Always including a disclaimer indicating that:
- The handbook is not an employment contract, but a statement of organizational policy that offers guidelines;
- The employer has the right to modify or delete policies in the handbook without notice;
- The employment relationship is at-will.
For more information on drafting your employee handbook: