Employee handbook can be referred to as an employee manual, staff handbook, or company policy manual but, they are all essentially the same thing. Put simply, an employee handbook is a book given to all employees, it highlights all relevant employment and job-related information which employees need to know.
Normally, employee handbooks all follow a simple structure and contain the same three categories. You can expect to find the following in all good employee handbooks;
- Information about the company – usually, these handbooks will contain general need to know information about the company, a mission statement and also all company values.
- General helpful information – you can expect to find company policies and procedures, details all employees need to know about the workplace and also things such as holiday arrangements and company perks.
- Specific important information – there should also be information regarding company rules, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and other information about employment laws or regulations.
Ideally, this employee handbook should be given as part of a company’s induction process for new employees, the same way a contract is.
Why Are Employee Handbooks Important?
A well-written employee handbook has several advantages for an employer. This handbook helps a company run smoothly by clearly outlining expectations in the workplace. By explaining workplace ethics and required behaviour, an employee handbook minimises workplace disputes.
It also allows your company to be open and clear about its stand on issues like favouritism, discrimination, and harassment, as well as providing information on how to report any violations regarding such issues.
Having all your policies and procedures clearly laid out and also easily accessible will be incredibly beneficial to managers too. It is a good reference manual to have and can help ensure that your team complies with all employment laws. These handbooks become a useful go-to tool for everyday queries and serious situations alike. Of course, it also saves your management team time during induction periods, it prevents them from having to explain the same information repeatedly.
It is probably one of the most beneficial reasons for having a well-written employee handbook is for situations where you may need to prove yourself. Take an employee lawsuit, for example, if you ever find yourself in an employment tribunal then being able to produce an employee handbook can be a beneficial legal defence.
Of course, for an employee handbook to assist you in these situations, you must ensure that it is up to date, understood by all members of staff and always abided by.
How Can You Create an Employee Handbook And Ensure That It Is Effective?
When coming up with a handbook that engages, it helps to think of the book as a navigation manual for your company. You want to include all important aspects of working within the organization and answer the common questions that a new staff may have. Here is a checklist for creating a comprehensive outline for your employee handbook, as per the guidelines laid out.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) & Conflict of Interest Statements
- Anti-Discrimination Policies
- Work Schedules
- Standards of Conduct
- General Employment Information
- Safety & Security
- Computers & Technology
- Media Relations
- Employee Benefits
- Leave Policies
There is no need to stop here. You are free to include mission statements and anything else that showcases your company as well as provides value to employees. Including these elements ensures that workers have access to the necessary information about being a part of your establishment.
Tips for your Employee Handbook
Your Employee Handbook should be clear, easy to understand and accessible to all employees. A copy of the handbook should be provided to each new employee when joining the company and a copy published on the company website or intranet for future reference.
There are a few standard provisions every Employment Handbook should:
- Supersede all previous extraneous company policies. This is an important point to clarify, in order to ensure that the Handbook is the ultimate point of reference and to ensure that there remains a consistent understanding of the company’s current policies.
- Be subject to change. It is important to retain the ability to edit and revise the Handbook where necessary, as it is inevitable that over time both employment legislation and company polices will evolve in response to the external environment.
- Be acknowledged by the employee. All Handbooks must contain a page where the employee signs and verifies that he or she is aware of the guidelines and will abide by them. This acknowledgement allows the company to later rely on these guidelines as legally enforceable should a dispute arise.
- In the event of a conflict of content between the contract of employment and the Employee Handbook, the contract of employment will always prevail.
An Employee Handbook is an important piece of document in any organisation. It is a compilation of the organization’s policies, procedures, rules, practices and working conditions in a company.
It serves to inform employees of the work rules and to explain the human resource practices and the terms and conditions of employment in greater detail than what is written in a typical employment contract. It also set out the various employee benefits that are accorded to employees.
In terms of legal requirements, employee handbook provides an excellent scope of the responsibilities as an employee and an employer and forms an important part of the employment contract under the Singapore Employment Law. If you already have one, you should ensure that it has been recently updated to comply with the constantly changing policies and practices. Along with saving you time, such manuals can improve employee morale, prevent disagreements, and even keep the company out of legal suits.