Building an employee handbook is a great way to introduce your new hires to the company, set forth your company policies, and provide structure for existing employees. While companies aren’t required to create a handbook, employers are required to notify their employees of certain rights. Most employers choose to do this in state-specific employee handbooks. Here’s an example for a California employee handbook requirements.

Employee handbooks are a smart way to protect your company: they ensure that your employees are notified of all applicable rights, obligations and company policies. If problems arise, you’ll have documentation of your compliance. 

When you’re hiring employees in California, your employee handbook should cover all notable state and federal policies. You may also want to include non-required policies that will protect your company. The problem? California has up to 24 unique state and federal policies that should be included. Plus, state and federal laws change all the time, so you’ll need to stay on top of new laws and regulations.

Hiring remotely means that you can gather top talent from all 50 states—but who has the time to research, create, and update employee handbooks every time you hire from a new state? 

SixFifty has solutions. Read on to learn about required and optional California employee handbook policies, then find out how we take the work out of compliance.

California employee handbook

Required Federal Employee Handbook Policies

Federal law supersedes state law. No matter where you’re doing business, federal employee handbook policies must be included. These cover some of the most critical worker rights, including anti-discrimination laws, different types of leave, and how the company will handle sexual harassment. 

The required federal employee handbook policies are the same across all 50 states, so you’ll need to include them in every version of your employee handbook. When there’s a change to the law, each state handbook needs to be updated appropriately. 

Each of the following policies must be included in your employee handbook:

  • Equal Employment and Anti-Discrimination Policy
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy (50 Employees)
  • Jury Duty Leave
  • Military Service Leave
  • Sexual Harassment Policy

Required California Employee Handbook Policies

California offers additional protections to its employees, including paid sick leave, crime victim and domestic violence leave, voting leave and more. These protections make it easier for California employees to take time off work without risking their employment status.

Note that there are also state policies governing health and safety, meal and rest breaks, and outside employment. These policies go further than federal law, and may require you to make adjustments to your overall company policies.

Finally, take note that the paid sick leave policies are unique for Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica: if you hire employees in those locations, be prepared to create different policies based on those requirements.

Here are California’s required policies:

  • Adult Illiteracy Leave (25 Employees)
  • Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Leave (25 Employees)
  • Civil Service and Air Patrol Leave (15 and 50 Employees)
  • Crime Victim Leave 
  • Domestic Violence Leave (25 Employees)
  • FMLA (5 Employees)
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Jury Duty Leave 
  • Lactation Accommodation
  • Meal and Rest Breaks
  • Military Service Leave 
  • Organ, Bone Marrow, and Blood Donor Leave (15 Employees)
  • Outside Employment Policy
  • Paid Sick Leave (including separate policies for Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Monica)
  • Paid Time Off
  • Pregnancy Leave (5 Employees)
  • School Activity Leave (50 Employees)
  • School Appearance Leave 
  • Voting Leave
  • Witness Duty Leave

Optional California Employee Handbook Policies

But wait—there’s more! In addition to the required state and federal policies, there are 46 optional policies you can add to your employee handbook. While not all of these will apply to every company, they can provide structure for employees and protect your business.

For instance, most companies will have a payment, holiday, and dress code policy—but you can also include policies that apply to your specific type of work. Transportation companies may wish to add policies about drugs, alcohol, and using electronic devices while driving. Tech companies may want to add policies about how employees can use company property, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, and telecommuting policies. 

After your required state and federal policies, you’re invited to add the following:

  • Affinity Group Policy
  • Arbitration Policy
  • At-Will Employment Policy
  • Background Check Policy
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Business Expense Policy
  • Company Property Policy
  • Confidentiality and Trade Secrets Policy
  • Desk Hoteling Policy
  • Direct Deposit Policy
  • Dress Code Policy
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy
  • Electronic Devices While Driving Policy
  • Employee Benefits Policy
  • Employee Classification Policy
  • Employee Dating Policy
  • Employee References Policy
  • Employment of Relatives Policy
  • Exit Interview Policy
  • Gifts Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Holidays
  • Immigration Law Compliance
  • Marijuana Policy
  • Off-Duty Use of Facilities
  • Overtime Policy
  • Payment of Wages Policy
  • Payroll Deductions Policy
  • Performance Review Policy
  • Personnel Files Policy
  • Pets in the Workplace Policy
  • Progressive Discipline Policy
  • Public Relations Policy
  • Punctuality and Attendance Policy
  • Salary Pay Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Solicitation and Distribution of Literature Policy
  • Technology Systems Policy 
  • Telecommuting Policy
  • Temporary Relocation Policy 
  • Timekeeping Policy
  • Video Conferencing Policy
  • Workers’ Compensation Policy
  • Workplace Violence Policy
  • Workplace Visitor Policy
  • Workweek and Work Schedules Policy 

SixFifty Helps Employers Meet California Employee Handbook Requirements

Researching, adding, and updating these California policies can be onerous—which is why SixFifty wants to make it easier for you. Our proprietary legal technology pairs automation with real legal expertise, so you can automatically generate and update California employee handbooks. Save time and billable hours: just answer a few questions about your company, download the generated handbook, and have your lawyers approve. 

Want to see how it works? Schedule a free demo with SixFifty today!


Meili Bell

Written by Meili Bell

Meili Bell is the Content Manager at SixFifty. She spends her workdays writing, editing, project managing and reading about the intersection of law and technology. Meili comes to SixFifty from Gifted Music School, a nonprofit music school for the most dedicated young musicians in the region, where she was program director of the school’s flagship program for the last ten...

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