St. Louis Business Law And General Practice Attorneys

Maximizing The Power Of Partnerships™

Explore Our Practice Areas

Why you need an employee handbook

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2023 | Business Law |

Does your business have an employee handbook? Creating an employee handbook is one of things many forget to add on the “to-do” list when starting a company. While it might seem less important than spending your time acquiring clients or well-serving the ones you already have, you should not put it off too long.

Here are some reasons you need one.

It can help communicate your company culture

Your first few employees may understand what sort of company you are trying to run because they have first-hand contact with you. As you grow and take on more staff, not everyone will have the benefit of spending personal time with you.

They will instead learn about the company from existing employees who might not always have the same ideas as you. Putting an overview of your vision in writing as a preface to the handbook allows you to relay your personal ideas and the culture you created and intend to maintain.

It can protect you

Imagine that you face a lawsuit or unemployment insurance claim from an employee you fired for failing to meet your expectations. They might claim that no one ever set out the expectations clearly. Similarly, protection from legal action occurs when you clearly state policies and procedures for events such as harassment by other employees, sick and vacation leave, qualifications for other employee benefits, use of computers, confidentiality issues and ownership of work.  If you can pick up your employee handbook and turn to the page where you made it explicitly clear what you expect of employees, their rights and responsibilities, then it weakens their case. Employers with employee handbooks to which supervisors can easily refer, are much more likely to apply policies and procedures in a consistent manner. Thus avoiding unequal treatment for employees with constitutionally protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion or age – which grants sensible employers a degree of protection against discrimination lawsuits.

On that note, while you can make your handbook available digitally, you should always get a receipt for delivery, have a page that employees sign and return to you. This gives you a record that they have read and understood the document.

Those are just two of the benefits of creating a well-written handbook for your employees.

But in drafting an employee handbook, be careful.  For be aware that the provisions placed in the employee handbook may work against you in a court case if promises are made which you failed to keep. For instance the handbook could inadvertently place the employer in a position of an express or implied contract that negates an intended “at will” status.  Future material changes to the handbook might require another delivery of the handbook and consideration paid to employees before the changes are effective. That’s why seeking credible legal guidance is wise when creating these documents.  By the way, while this may sound too self-serving, its true.  We have seen some horrendous employer handbooks which clients created online.  They actually place the employer in a worse position than if no handbook existed.  If you embark on the employee handbook project, seek out an experienced attorney.  Only then will you “get what you paid for…”