If you own a small business with employees, you might wonder whether you need a small business employee handbook. Generally, employee handbooks are not legally required, but they can be quite helpful when setting expectations and outlining company policies and procedures. They help protect your company if employment claims arise, offering peace of mind and evidence of legal compliance.

The important thing to remember is that if you do have one, it needs to comply with federal, state and local laws. That can be a challenge—especially for small businesses, where your time and labor force is limited.

Fortunately, there’s no need to start from scratch. SixFifty’s employee handbook tool makes it fast, cost-effective and easy to generate your own custom, state-specific and compliant handbook. Here’s what you need to know about small business employee handbooks.

Does a small business need an employee handbook?

Legally, you might not need an employee handbook—but you should have one. Handbooks act as a guide to working at your company. They provide current and new employees with the information they need to follow company policies and procedures, from how to dress to what kind of benefits you offer. When an issue arises, your company handbook acts as their first resource.

Furthermore, employee handbooks can protect your company. If an employment law issue arises, a handbook is a key piece of evidence that can show that employers met their legal obligations. As your company grows, your handbook will provide important information and protect you from potential liability.

In short, you should aim to create a robust employee handbook before you hire your first employee. Keep in mind that handbooks can and should be updated over time, as your business’s needs change and grow.

What should a small business employee handbook include?

A small business employee handbook typically includes the same basic elements as a large employer’s handbook. However, certain laws and employee protections may not apply to very small businesses. For example, federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections only apply to employers with 50 or more workers, and Title VII anti-discrimination provisions only apply to private employers with more than 15 employees.

Your employee handbook should also include state-specific policies for every state in which you have employees. State laws generally cover issues like overtime, minimum wage and protected classes. There are also hyper-local laws, which may only apply to certain cities or counties.

Your small business employee handbook should be specifically tailored to your industry, company size, employee location and other important factors. Most employee handbooks include but are not limited to:

  • Company policies and procedures
  • Company culture, mission statement and values
  • HR information
  • Grievance policies
  • Employee rights and legal policies
  • Information about benefits
  • Dress codes

When you create your small business employee handbook, you’ll need to research what’s required in employees’ states and counties, as well as federal obligations. This will ensure that your company is protected if an employee brings a claim against your company.

How to create an employee handbook for your small business

Small businesses are in a tough spot when it comes to employee handbooks. Hiring a lawyer to draft one from scratch might be prohibitively expensive, while one-size-fits-all online templates may not cover all of the policies and procedures you need.

If you’re wondering how to build your small business employee handbook without breaking the bank, look no further than SixFifty. Our proprietary legal employment tools pair real legal expertise with easy-to-use technology. You can quickly generate customized, state- and location-specific employee handbooks—no need to worry about whether you’re compliant and have covered all your bases. Our software does all the heavy lifting for you.

It’s easy: simply answer some questions about your company, then let our software tools generate your custom handbook. All you need to do is download the generated document and have your lawyer review. It’s the ease of a template with the thorough research employment attorneys can provide. Best of all, our software will automatically notify you whenever federal or state laws change, so you can generate an updated handbook.

Create your own small business employee handbook with SixFifty

Small businesses have unique needs, and SixFifty’s software tools are designed to make it fast, cost-effective, and easy to meet them. Stay compliant and create your own custom handbook. If you’re interested in learning more about our employee handbook tools, schedule a product demo today!

Looking for the employee handbook requirements for your state? View our interactive map for required employee handbook policies by state.