No matter the size of your enterprise, having an employee handbook can benefit your organization. A handbook summarizes company policies and gives employees a roadmap for what is expected. It’s also a way to promote your brand and culture internally. As workplaces evolve, a handbook can help protect your organization against misunderstandings and potential lawsuits.

What is a handbook?
An employee handbook is a document outlining your employment policies and company rules. It sets the tone for how your organization functions. It contains information about various policies (such as paid holidays, vacations), behavior standards and the dress code.

Why do I need one?
A handbook is an essential business tool and sets a fair company standard. If an employee deviates from standard best practices, you have a documented description of your organizational expectations. Written policies and procedures can help you avoid lawsuits, but in the event your company is facing a lawsuit, an existing policy manual can be used as evidence of company rules. Once you have created a handbook, distribute it and have other copies available. Make sure to collect signatures from each employee receiving a handbook. If possible, have a mobile option as well so you can post it on your intranet. You want to avoid an employee pleading ignorance to your organizational policies and the more places they have access the less valid their argument. Also, each updated version of the handbook should have a note stating that it supersedes all other editions.

Is it required?
California does not require you to have an employee handbook, but if you create one it needs to contain certain policies. Below is a list of policies that must be included:

  • It must contain an at-will employment policy.
  • It must outline an equal opportunity policy.
  • It must outline an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy and include information for contacting the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • It must outline an attendance and leave of absence policy.
  • It must contain wage and overtime policies and include information about break and meal times.

Your company can benefit from written policies; however, if the need for litigation arises, a consultation with an experienced employment law attorney can help get your focus back on work.