…. Sadly not, unfortunately dealing with employees is not as simple as hiring them, setting them up with a phone and pc and instructing them to work. This blog explores the importance of having a staff handbook.
Your greatest asset as a business is your staff. If you handle staff issues ineffectively or inconsistently, your business will feel the impact – morale will be low and dealing with unhappy and complaining staff can cost you, as the employer, time, money and loss of profitability.
Employment law is an area of law that has an enormous volume of regulatory and statutory requirements for business owners. Falling foul of your legal requirements can be detrimental to your business, its reputation and profit.
So how can you ensure your business remains compliant and lucrative?… Rules, Procedures and Policies! An employee handbook, or staff handbook, is a written collection and summary of employer policies, procedures and practices. Handbooks are designed to answer employees’ questions on their employer’s procedures and to avoid time-consuming case-by-case practice design.
Clear rules ensure that your staff are aware of what conduct is acceptable in the workplace. It is wrong to discipline or dismiss an employee for doing, or omitting to do something, which you, as a business owner, deem unacceptable but haven’t conveyed to staff.
Rules and procedures set out in an easily accessible staff handbook provide benchmarks, so staff know exactly what you deem acceptable and inexcusable, as well as ensuring consistency in your approach to handling requests by staff, disciplinary, grievance and complaints within the office.
The benefits of having a Staff Handbook
- Introduces employees to your ethos and values (it is often said that the success of a business lies on staff and customers ‘buying into’ the business objective and values)
- Ensures consistency
- Clearly directs staff to what is expected of them
- Helps defend against employee (legal) claims (the most useful document you can provide to defend against a legal claim will be a copy of your employee handbook)
- Provides guidance of management
Ensure all staff are treated equally or set out in a Handbook why a category of staff is exempt from a rule i.e. manager using a mobile phone in the office whereas admin staff are prohibited from mobile usage.
What policies should the handbook contain?
Company Car Policy / Private Car Allowance Policy / Emergency Leave Policy / Lone Worker Policy / Mental Health & Stress Policy /Employee Search Policy / Personal Relationships at Work Policy / Dress and Appearance Policy / Outside Business Interests Policy / Time Off for Medical Appointments Policy / Compassionate Leave Policy Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy / Zero Hours Policy / Mobile Phone Use Policy Political Activity in the Workplace / No Smoking Policy / Drugs Policy/alcohol Policy / Communications, Email and Internet Policy / Whistle-blowing Policy / Social Media Policy / Employee Data Protection Policy…………….
For more information on handbooks and Parker Arrenberg Solicitors, drafting service see here.
Once you’ve drafted your Handbook what should you do next?
- Ensure all staff sign a form acknowledging they have been provided with a copy/access to the Handbook.
- Regularly review the Handbook and update with changes in statutory employment conditions/rights, for example, changes in the minimum wage and holiday entitlement (if relevant).
- Make the Handbook available on the business intranet, server or simply email it to staff annually (even if no changes have been made since it was last emailed)
- When you make changes to the Handbook advise staff of the changes.
- Ensure all managers have read and actually understand the procedures they should be following when dealing with breaches of the Rules by Staff.
Remember…the rules and procedures in a Handbook are not terms of the employer/employee contract. They can therefore be varied without consultation or approval from your staff. Although, no consolation with your employees when you initially impose a number of new, or stricter, rules is not a sensible approach as it can simply create an uproar, uncertainty and low morale among staff.
Parker Arrenberg Solicitors provides astute legal advice and the drafting of legal agreements, policies and documents to address your immediate and ongoing business needs.
We can assist, negotiate and draft agreement terms with the co-founders, investors, employees, suppliers and customers.
We can assist whether you are a new start-up or an established business. We work for you to design ‘best practice’ doctrines ensuring and securing a smooth running and efficient workplace.
Parker Arrenberg Solicitors provide sensible commercial legal advice and draft the agreements you need in place to reduce areas of dispute or at least provide a mechanism for the parties to resolve a dispute. We can help you grow and evolve safely in the knowledge that you, your business and your brand are protected and stand on a strong legal ground to move forward.
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