Creating An Employee Handbook For Small Business
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
No legislation exists in Canada for organizations to have an employee handbook. But it’s in every company’s interest to have one.
An employee handbook helps inform staff about what’s expected of them. Policies can be outlined, and important forms attached.
Not every rule or procedure need be described in detail. The handbook could provide a general overview. Readers can be pointed to specific resources if thorough coverage is necessary. Consider addressing the following items in your handbook.
A brief welcome to employees, explaining what the handbook covers and why it’s being provided. A bit about the employer’s mission, values and history might appear here as well.
Acknowledgment Form for Employees
Each employee should sign and submit a statement that acknowledges receipt of the handbook. Employees are expected to review, be familiar with, and abide by its contents This will assist your firm in case regulations are violated or legal action arises.
Code of Conduct
These handbooks typically contain a code of conduct for employees. Guidelines are set around appropriate behavior for your workplace. Harassment and discrimination policies should also be clearly defined. Progressive discipline and procedures for making a complaint could be present.
Business ethics is a related (though discretionary) subject. Do you have policies on giving or receiving gifts? Being honest in all transactions? If so include or reference them in this section.
Here is where you discuss such matters as attandance, confidentiality, dress code, cause for termination, an Equal Opportunity statement, access to personnel records, parking, conflicts of interest, additional terms and conditions of employment and the like.
Safety and Emergencies
It is important to discuss steps employees should take in case of crisis. For accidents, injuries, medical or safety calamities: instruct people on how to get out of harm’s way, contact authorities, and seek medical attention quickly.
Provide a summary of Compensation and Benefits. Include pay periods, work hours and reporting procedures; vacation entitlements, list of observed holidays, personal leaves; group insurance and disability coverage, company pension programs; employee training programs and financial support for additional education; Employee Assistance Program (EAP) access, etc.
Additional Topics That Could Be Included
The items above might form the core of your employee handbook. They might be sufficient to satisfy the needs of your organization.
Yet there are areas that could be optionally incorporated as well. It depends on how much you want to pack in. What follows is some of these additional elements.
Optional: Use of Company Equipment and Electronics
- Telephone use
- Cell phone policy
- Company tools, equipment and supplies
- Computer and internet use
- blogging and social media policy
Optional: Monitoring in the Workplace
- Scrutiny of email, computer, voicemail, internet and telephone
- Video surveillance, physical searches, drug tests
Optional: Additional Employee Forms
Confidentiality and Non-Compete forms could be appended. However they should stand on their own and be signed/submitted to the proper authority at the time of onboarding.
Optional: Accommodation for People With Disabilities
You may want to highlight aspects of accommodation programs in place for people with physical or mental challenges. This might encompass special work arrangements, tools or devices avialable, subsidies and training provided.
Keep It Simple And Accessible
The smaller your company is, the less that should be jammed into an employee handbook. Just make sure the main topics are covered. And point out supplementary resources as needed.
The handbook itself can be printed or virtual. Many employers place the handbook behind a password-protected section on the employee intranet. So long as it’s easily accessible anytime, it can serve as a fast, valuable reference.