Handbooks are often seen as the less important piece of documentation when it comes to employment contracts or statement of main terms. Though there is no legal requirement to give handbooks to employees it is strongly suggested that a handbook is implemented within businesses and given to all new staff on commencement of their employment. The Employee Handbook is a document which sets out all practices and procedures which apply within your business that employees need to be aware of. Importantly, handbooks are also reference materials for employers, or managers, who have to deal with these issues as the policies contained within will highlight a procedure for managers to take to apply the policies and, where necessary, sanction employees for a breach of these. The content of Employee Handbooks will differ between companies though there are some standard policies which are nearly always included. The standard policies generally include documentation on disciplinary procedures, grievance and harassment procedures, equal opportunities policies, capability procedures and any terms and conditions of employment which are not legally required to be contained in the statement of main terms. Some of the newer policies which are being increasingly included within handbooks are those on social media use, mobile phone use, the use of personal devices during work time and those on substance abuse. These are issues which are becoming more prevalent in the workplace due to an increasing reliance and availability of social media and technology. It is important that if your workplace suffers from these issues, and you wish to take action, there is an appropriate policy within your handbook. Though a separate policy for each may not be necessary, the clearer the policies the more transparent the requirements on both the employee and employer are. In theory, employee handbooks should contain all policies which are applicable to your company and your employees. The policies should be personalised and not generic, making sure that they are easy to follow within the business. It is important to administer the handbook to all employees and receive a signed confirmation that they have read and understand the handbook. It is also imperative to keep the handbook updated and current, making sure any changes are communicated to staff and their approval to work under these is gained. This can be important evidence when you are implementing the policies and any sanctions contained within them. If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.
June 24 2015