Are employee handbooks required? Why have an employee handbook, if not?

Employee handbooks aren’t required by law, but they can be a key resource for employees. If you have or plan to hire employees, communicating your organization’s policies, standards, best practices, and expectations is key. Many businesses create their own, which introduces the company and includes important federal, state, local, and general company policies.

The contents of your employee handbook will vary depending on your state as well as your industry, company mission, and values. If you decide to create a handbook for your company, you must comply with all applicable employment laws and regulations. That can be a massive undertaking when your employees live and work in multiple states, but SixFifty can help you save time and money while remaining compliant.

Here’s why you should have an employee handbook.

What is the purpose of an employee handbook?

It’s a guide for your employees as they work at your organization. They help onboard new workers: employees are introduced to the company’s values, mission, benefits, and policies and procedures. When the handbook is compliant with federal and state law, they also protect employers: you’ll have a record of your compliant policies should an issue arise.

The contents of an employee handbook vary depending on your industry, where employees live and work, your mission and priorities, and other factors. They typically include sections covering company policies and procedures, the company’s culture, values and mission, human resources information, grievance policies, employee rights and legal notices, information about compensation and benefits, dress codes, and other helpful information.

Depending on the size of your company, your legal obligations and notices may vary. Certain federal employment laws only apply to companies of certain sizes—for example, the Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to employers with 50 or more workers. Meanwhile, states and some large cities and counties may impose additional worker protections. You may need to include additional required policies in your employee handbook, depending on where your employees live and work—even if you’re headquartered in another state.

Ultimately, the handbook is a resource for both employers and employees, and it’s very important to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

Why are employee handbooks important?

Not only are employee handbooks helpful in onboarding new employees and providing written notice of work, state, and federal policies, but they also serve important management and interpersonal purposes.

When you have a thorough and legally compliant employee handbook, be sure to train your managers on the information within—and train them to manage the policies. They also serve as notice to employees. When issues arise, such as someone taking emergency medical leave, transferring to another department, going against the dress code, or using social media in an inappropriate manner, your managers can refer to the applicable policies and handle situations accordingly.

This also serves to eliminate misperceptions of unfairness, and can reduce conflict between employees, management, and leadership. As long as your policies are compliant and you enforce them in a fair and equitable manner, your handbook can mitigate the risk of lawsuit. These employee handbook benefits are crucial to any company with employees, whether you have two or 200.

How to create an employee handbook

Creating one can be a daunting task: not only do you have to research which federal, state, and local laws apply, you’ll also need to decide which optional policies and procedures to include. This can be time-consuming if you’re doing it on your own, and expensive if you plan to hire an attorney to draft the handbook from scratch. Don’t be tempted to copy and paste content from other employee handbooks, either—not only is it a copyright violation, but the policies included may not apply to your workforce.

On top of that, you’ll need to create a new handbook every time you hire someone in a different state. So why have an employee handbook if it’s time-consuming, expensive and not even required?

Fortunately, there’s an easier way to protect your company and stay compliant. Instead of racking up billable hours with your attorney or researching state-specific employment laws on your own, SixFifty has done the hard work for you. SixFifty’s Employment Docs platform has been designed to guide employers through every stage of employment, from offer letters to termination. You can easily create top-tier employment documents like employee handbooks quickly and easily. Best of all, our legal team keeps a close eye on new developments in employment legislation across the country. If there’s a change, you’ll be notified so you can regenerate your handbooks.

Ready to learn more? Schedule a demo today!

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