Employee Handbooks

Many employers think that it is best to operate without formal policies or employee handbooks, because this gives them more flexibility. I advise my clients that employee handbooks are helpful and important for setting expectations and ensuring that the employer and employees are all on the same page. Besides, the flexibility of operating informally can get an employer into trouble the first time the employer treats two employees differently.

I work with employers to draft handbooks, or review and revise existing handbooks, consistent with legal requirements and best practices. A clear handbook policy can be an employer’s best defense to a claim for unemployment benefits or a disparate treatment claim. It can also help an employer safely navigate the tricky area of managing employee leaves of absence.

Some of the key policies a good employee handbook should contain are as follows:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity policy
  • Appropriate at-will disclaimer
  • Appropriate contract disclaimer
  • Employment classifications (full-time, part-time, seasonal) and the distinctions between each
  • Code of conduct
  • Policy against sexual and other harassment (including all legal requirements)
  • Electronic communications policy
  • Social media policy
  • Policy regarding alcohol and/or drugs in the workplace
  • Workplace violence prevention policy
  • Attendance policy
  • Time-reporting policy
  • Overtime policy
  • Meal breaks
  • Accommodations for nursing mothers
  • Paycheck policy
  • Summary of employee benefits
  • Vacation/Sick/Personal/Paid time off policy
  • FMLA policy (if applicable)
  • Maternity/parental leave policy
  • Jury duty policy
  • Military leave policy
  • Small Necessities Leave (MA)
  • Family Violence Leave (CT)
  • Termination of Employment

If you don’t have an employee handbook, or if your employee handbook has not undergone a legal review in the last two years, please call me to find out how I can help.