7 reasons all employers need an Employee Handbook

7 reasons all employers need an Employee Handbook

All employers need HR policies and procedures.

If you have five or more employees, the law says that you need to have a written Health & Safety policy. Morevoer the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures lays down that all employers should have written disciplinary and grievance procedures. An Employee handbook would be a good place to start for this.

So why not also have an absence management procedure, dress code, flexible working policy, performance management procedure, rules on internet, email and computer use and social media policy too?

To make it easier for everyone, you can house all these important documents in one place: your Employee Handbook.

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Not convinced? Here are seven key reasons why all employers need an Employee Handbook.

1  It sets out your expectations to your employees.

Having written policies and procedures gives you the chance to clearly communicate your expectations to employees, setting out your rules and standards.

For instance, you can make it clear that all employees are entitled to a working environment free from bullying and harassment. You will take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously and deal with any complaints in line with the bullying and harassment procedure. This way, employees know this type of conduct is unacceptable. They must consider how their words and actions may be seen by others and avoid behaving in such a way that causes offence or creates an unpleasant working environment.

2  It alerts your employees to what happens if they breach the rules.

As part of your timekeeping rules, you may ask employees to record their arrival and departure times. You can make it clear that a deliberate failure to record time may be treated as gross misconduct.

If they know that the rules have clear consequences, they may be deterred from misbehaving!

3  It gives your managers all the tools they need to deal with tricky workplace situations.

Having pre-agreed rules means managers do not waste time deciding how to respond to a situation.

For example, if an employee has raised a formal concern about their colleague, the manager can refer to the grievance procedure and follow the steps set out. Likewise, the employee can read the Employee Handbook and learn what the procedure entails.

4  It ensures consistency and fairness.

Having your managers follow the same policy or procedure prevents them from handling similar cases differently. Adopting one standard for everyone means that there is consistency in approach and less likelihood of claims of, for example, discrimination.

5  It improves staff productivity.

In your Employee Handbook, you can lay down the rules to ensure that employees’ productivity is high. For example, in your policy on computer use, you can make it clear that excessive personal use during working hours will be treated as misconduct. If employees know they can face disciplinary action, it can act as a deterrent and ensure they are focusing on their work.

6  It protects your organisation.

Are you worried that an employee will post an inappropriate video on Facebook? Concerned about what your employees are tweeting?

You should have a clear and robust social media policy, which sets out guidelines on what is and is not permitted both at work and at home. You should emphasise that any offensive, discriminatory or defamatory comments, images or videos about the company, their managers, colleagues, clients or service users will be subject to the disciplinary procedure. This can help prevent any behaviour that could cause significant reputational damage to your company.

7  It helps with claims.  

Employers often find themselves making costly procedural mistakes when disciplining or dismissing an employee for misconduct. They may have a fair reason for dismissal. However, if they have not followed a fair procedure, this can render the whole process unfair. Having a clear, legally compliant and well-written procedure can reduce the likelihood of running into legal action and, if a claim is issued, give you a better chance of successfully defending it.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • It’s essential to make sure the Employee Handbook is easily accessible for all employees. Give them a printed copy when they start working for you, put important policies on notice boards in common areas, upload it to the company intranet, etc.
  • Get employees to sign a receipt to show that they have read and understood the policies in the Employee Handbook. This way, they cannot argue that they were not aware of the rules!
  • Train your managers to make sure they understand how to implement these policies and procedures fairly and consistently.
  • Review the policies frequently to make sure it remains compliant with the law.

Exclusive Bonus:The Employer’s Definitive Guide Staff Handbooks and HR policies | Discover everything you need to include in your handbook and what policies you need to provideDownload Now

Remember that the most significant benefit to the Employee Handbook not being contractual is that it allows employers to vary its contents. You can do this without requiring the formal consent of its employees. You should clearly state that the contents of the Employee Handbook do not form part of the terms of their Contract of Employment unless otherwise stated. It should also say that you may need to amend any policy or procedure to ensure that it remains relevant and consistent with the law and the needs of the business.

This is why it’s important to get your Employee Handbook drafted by a legal expert – someone who understands your business and what you are trying to achieve. Contact us to explore how we can help you.

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