Personnel Policy Manuals (Employee Handbooks)
© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted
from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff
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Document all intended employment policies and procedures and collect them in
a policies and procedures manual. (See Personnel
Policies.) Having all policies and procedures in a manual facilitates training
about them to all employees. All employees should have read the manual to understand
and accept its contents. They should sign a form indicating so, and provide
the signed form to the organization’s administrator.
All supervisors should be trained about the policies and procedures. A large
number of suits brought against organizations is because, although the organizations
had clear policies, supervisors did not enact the policies because they did
not understand them. Note that courts may consider policies and procedures as
superseded by the actual behaviors displayed by supervisors.
The Board of Directors (in the case of corporations) should authorize all policies
in the manual and every employee should receive a copy of the manual.
Each policy should include wording to the effect that the policies are for
general guidance in the relationships between staff and the agency, the board
has authorized the policy, that policies can be changed at any time and that
the policies do not constitute a contract between the organization and the employee.
Consider the following wording on the cover of your policies manual:
“Nothing contained in or implied by this manual creates or shall be
deemed to create or constitute a contractual obligation to employees on the
part (of the organization). The policies, procedures and guidelines contained
in this manual are subject to change at any time, do not confer any obligation
(on the part of the organization) and do not create any right to employment
on the part (of the organization).”
© Copyright Sheri Mazurek
So what do you say when an employee asks, “What’s the policy regarding
[insert any random employee concern here]? If the answer starts with, “Well,
the handbook says […], but we usually we just do it this way. Then you
may be in trouble. Or, have you ever given the answer that you believed to be
correct just to have the employee state, “well, the handbook says I am
entitled to […].” And as soon as it is out of their mouth, you say,
“well, that is not how we do things.” Or, instead of saying a word,
you pull out the handbook and frantically search to find the source of their
comment certain that you are going to prove them wrong. If any of the above
scenarios sound familiar to you, your handbook or your handbook compliance may
need a tune-up.
Having an accurate, up to date handbook has many advantages in the workplace.
It provides employees and supervisors with guidance on how to handle situations
as they arise. However, compliance with the policies contained within consistently
across the organization can be even more important to mitigate risk to the organization.
And while mitigation of risk shouldn’t be the only priority of HR professionals,
it is a necessary part of the job. And even if you are not concerned with risk
mitigation, just having the consistent compliance with policies provides a better
workplace for employees. They like knowing what is expected and what consequences
will occur for not meeting those expectations.
Below is a list of things to consider when creating, updating and communicating
your employee handbook or Standard Operating Procedures.
- Have it reviewed by an attorney.
- Review it at regular intervals to ensure policies are current and up to
- Have a plan in place to address updates to policies. How will the updates
be communicated to the organization?
- Ensure the communication of all policies to everyone in the organization.
- Provide training to supervisors and company leaders on the importance of
consistently following all policies.
- Keep a log of all updates and changes to all policies.Don’t lock yourself
into consequences you don’t want to enforce. Doing so, will encourage
non-compliance and get you into trouble.
of Employee Handbooks
Employee Manuals as Contracts
to Assemble an Employee Handbook
The Employment Law Resource
Center – FAQ’s
World’s Best Employee Manual
Employee Handbook- Is There an Update Needed?
Handbook Employee Handbook – Free Template
For Creating An Employee Handbook
For the Category of Human Resources:
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