What are the pros and cons of implementing an employee handbook?

Often small business owners procrastinate implementing an employee handbook until they’ve experienced an issue with their employees. These issues could be wage and compensation disputes, or allegations of workplace discrimination. Whatever the issue is, one thing is certain; it takes your time and energy away from growing your business.

Benefits of a well-written employee handbook.

Employee handbooks can be a great tool to disseminate information regarding procedures and policies within your company. A well-written employee handbook lays out your expectations for your employees and lets your employees know what they can expect from you and your company.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends[1] that your business has an employee handbook that contains at least the following things:

  • Anti-Discrimination Policies,
  • Compensation Information,
  • Standards of Conduct,
  • General Employment Information,
  • Safety and Security Information, and
  • Employment Benefits (if applicable).

Common pitfalls of a poorly written employee handbook.

Despite the advantages to a well-written employee handbook, a poorly written one can cause some big problems for small business owners.

Small business owners run into two common pitfalls when it comes to employee handbooks.

(1) The employee handbook unintentionally makes a statement that exempts employees from the traditional “at-will” employment status. An “at-will” employee is someone who can be terminated at any time for any non-discriminatory reason. Most states, including Utah, consider employees to be “at-will” unless their employer makes a representation that suggests otherwise. A handbook that is not written properly can trap a business owner into retaining an employee who is not performing, or at best requires you to jump through multiple hoops of your creation!

(2) The employee handbook contains management policies that may be against the law. The National Labor Relations Board, which enforces many U.S. labor laws, has found that many policies that have historically favored management are starting to be found illegal.[2] For example, if your handbook restricts employees’ ability to discuss pay amongst their co-workers and prohibiting employees from making negative remarks about an employer you may be at risk of legal action from the government.

We can help!

At Hepworth Legal, we understand the legal issues that surround small business owners. Our experienced attorneys can help draft your employment documents in a way that is both fair to the employee and protects you. We know that you want to be focused on growing your business and not on managing your employees.

Call today at (801) 895-4408. Let us earn your trust and be your lawyers for life.

Written by attorney Tyler S. Call. Copyright @ 2016 Hepworth Legal. All Rights Reserved.

[1] www.sba.gov/starting-business/hire-retain-employees/employee-handbooks

[2] National Law Review, NLRB Issues Guidance Regarding Lawful Employee Handbook Policies (April 2015), www.natlawreview.com/article/nlrb-issues-guidance-regarding-lawful-employee-handbook-polices.