A company’s employee handbook communicates and clarifies its mission, policies, and expectations. Employees are given the handbook when first hired, and are expected to read and refer to it when questions or incidents arise. A well done handbook can give a new employee confidence in understanding the company. Your handbook should be telling of the company culture as well, which will help the employee get a feel for the overall pace and expectations of the organization.
We have put together an Employee Handbook template for you which includes the main areas you’ll need to complete your company’s own handbook. For help in other areas regarding hiring, interviewing, and on-boarding a new employee, visit www.vivahr.com.
We recommend having the following categories in your Employee Handbook Template:
A company vision statement is a broad, overall goal of where you hope your company will be in the future. You can make it concise, or embellish a little bit. For example, Disney’s old vision statement is “To Make People Happy”. Southwest Airlines’ vision statement is “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”
A vision statement is more than just a nice idea to put in your lobby and handbook. It should be used in the everyday processes of carrying out business. If your employees understand and believe in your company vision, that vision will much more likely become a reality.
When writing your own vision statement, ask some critical questions. What is the impact my company will have on the market? How will my brand serve customers? How will my brand play a role in the lives of my employees? After you’ve answered some of these questions, take a look at competitors’ vision statements. Differentiate yourself from them. What makes your company different? How will this overall vision help your company be better than the competition?
Your company mission statement is a more specific set of statements that address the overall processes of your organization. It will lay the foundation of your guidelines and overall purpose of your company. It addresses the what, why and how of your organization. A great example is Amazon: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.“
As you answer these questions and write your mission statement, keep in mind that the mission statement should make clear the purpose of and the reasons for your business existing. The policies in your employee handbook should be conducive to accomplishing this mission statement.
Company culture is the feel of the surroundings, attitude of co-workers, and overall values of a company. It could mean having a designated nap area like Zappos, or a cold cereal bar at Keap, or frequent rooftop parties like Twitter. It could mean hiring based largely on the right cultural “fit”. It could mean the layout of your office being accessible to all employees, with less barriers between levels of management.
In our modern world, company culture is becoming a major factor of people seeking employment. Are employees treated well? How? Is there an area at the workplace for them to unwind so they can regain focus? Does this company reward employees beyond compensation? How can this company help them be their best professional self?
Take a few minutes to establish and put into words what your company culture looks like. There may be moments when writing your employee handbook that you will refer back to your company culture goals. You may ask yourself, “Does this policy reflect our company culture?”
Similar to your mission statement and company culture, your company values communicate what is important to your organization. Plain and simple, what are the attributes and attitudes that you want to see each of your employees practicing at the workplace? List your attributes, and then shortly expound on them.
Here are a few ideas:
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A Full-time employee regularly works at least 35 hours weekly. A part-time employee regularly works less than 35 hours, but more than 17 ½ hours weekly. A salary-based employee is paid on an agreed upon amount, and is exempt from overtime based upon the Fair Labor Standards Act. A non-exempt employee is paid hourly, and is compensated overtime when they have worked over 40 hours, according to the state and federal laws.
Equal opportunity gives no preference or discrimination to employees regarding race, religion, orientation, political affiliation, marital status, parental status, age, family responsibilities, etc. This refers to the hiring process, assignments, promotions, benefits, wage and salary, disciplinary measures, etc. To answer more in-depth questions, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/ .
The employer is expected to abide by these laws, as well as employees. List consequences to violations of this law.
Lay out the hours where employee is to arrive and leave. How long are breaks and lunch breaks? Discuss the importance of punctuality and what repercussions may occur in repeated tardiness. How many sick days, including long-term illness, are employees allowed? How should employees notify a supervisor they will not be coming in? Address paid time off. Define which holidays are taken off. Address bereavement leave. Address jury duty and voting time off. Define parental leave for maternity and paternity.
Every company reserves the right to conduct a background check on employees before and during employment. This can be on an individual’s commercial, criminal, and occasionally financial records.
Your company pledges to keep the records and personal information of employees private. An employee’s personal items, storage area, phone calls, voicemails and personal emails are all included in this area.
Your company should have a non-disclosure statement regarding company property and information. Any information that an employee learns that is not publicly known, should not be shared. Some examples are trade secrets, product information, employee compensation, company plans, and more.
An employee’s company issued computer is the property of the company, and therefore is subject to review of the company. Computers, software, telephones and technology have been issued to accomplish the purposes of the company, and therefore belong to the organization. If the company sees possible reasons why this equipment has been used beyond effective professional use, the company reserves a right to investigate emails, files, and communications.
If any of this equipment is used to distribute hurtful or derogatory content, the employer has a right to investigate and carry out appropriate actions.
Personal time on a company computer and during company time needs to be limited, and should not get in the way of an employee accomplishing work goals. If this is violated, the company reserves the right to investigate and act accordingly.
Employees have the right to work in a comfortable and non-threatening environment. Any type of harassment or violence is unacceptable and will be dealt with immediately. Harassment claims will be investigated in a discreet and fair manor.
Employers need to ensure a safe work environment for employees. An emergency plan should be well thought out and written in the employee handbook, as well as visually in the workplace. If equipment or building materials do not satisfy safety standards, employees have the right to express concerns to the employer.
Employees are expected to contribute to a productive work environment, where their choices regarding smoking, drugs, and drinking do not interfere. The company is a drug free organization, and employees may be terminated if drugs are found on company premises. Similarly, if an employee is found under the influence of drugs, controlled substances, including alcohol, the employee may be terminated.
Employers need to decide what is the appropriate dress for employees. Take a cue from your company culture, and the level of professional/casual atmosphere your organization embodies.
Personal time on a company computer and during company time needs to be limited, and should not get in the way of an employee accomplishing work goals. Social media, personal emails, internet browsing for personal reasons must have limits to achieve productive workplace goals. Use of inappropriate websites, downloading, pictures and videos are unacceptable and may result in termination. Similarly, the use of company phones to make personal phone calls or the use of voicemail needs to be limited, in order to achieve a productive atmosphere in the workplace. If the acceptable use of internet, phones and voicemail is violated, the company reserves the right to investigate and act accordingly.
Having friendly relationships in the workplace can encourage camaraderie and teamwork. Employees are encouraged to enrich relationships with those with whom they work, while understanding boundaries. Excessive time mingling and socializing during regular work hours may result in warnings by supervisors or employer.
Whether or not you choose to have a policy regarding romantic relationships in the workplace is up to you as the employer. Consider carefully your policy and do your research.
If your company chooses to offer health insurance, you may give this information here. Do only exempt, salary based employees qualify for benefits? What is the insurance company, plan, deductible, co-pay, etc? Mention that if terminated or employee quits, they are responsible for payment to the insurance company, if still allowed by insurance company and employer.
Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation if an accident or injury happens in the workplace, or performing job duties while carrying out a task. If any incident occurs, this must be reported and submitted (even if there is no apparent injury at the time) by both the employee and employer.
Working from Home can be a benefit that many employees enjoy. If you, as an employer, deem this as an acceptable practice, you may want to set guidelines of how often this can occur. Can this be a weekly occurrence, an exception when a family situation arises, an exception when the employee isn’t feeling well? Clearly state your expectations.
Employees should be reimbursed for any expenses they made while carrying out workplace duties. Set guidelines and procedures of this process. Clearly outline what qualifies as company approved reimbursements and what does not.
If your organization has the need to lend equipment for employees as they carry out duties, you will want to provide guidelines to assure accountability and to prolong the life and safety of your equipment.
Separation from employee and employment may occur by resignation or termination. If employee resigns, they should give 10 working days (two weeks) notice. Employee is entitled to receive accrued, unused vacation benefits.
If an employee is not performing to acceptable standards, a process of performance reviews, warnings, disciplinary actions, and termination may need to be used. It is useful to have documented actions and conversations to show that the employee was treated fairly if termination occurs. If the employee is terminated, they are entitled to receive accrued, unused vacation benefits. You may list specific actions to why an employee may be terminated.
If resignation or termination occurs, the employee must return company property. This may include computers, keys, security badges, intellectual property (written materials, work products), credit cards, etc.
If termination or resignation occurs, the employee may be required to sign a non-compete document and non-disclosure document, where they agree not to disclose sensitive information (not generally known to the market or public), and where they agree not to gain employment at another establishment within the same workforce within a certain amount of months.
-Employee acknowledges policies and agrees to terms. Please not, signing the employee handbook is not the same as signing an employment contract. An employment contract is a legally binding document that lays out the specifics of each individual employee’s agreement to work for your company. When an employee signs an employee handbook, they are acknowledging the guidelines and terms of the company. The handbook is there to educate and help resolve issues that may arise within the workplace.
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-Your Company Culture. Does your handbook communicate the feel and culture you want to carry out? Are your policies conducive to work efficacy and to the satisfaction of your employees?
-State Laws Where you Employ People. Each state has different laws, requirements, and exemptions. A few specifics to look for are: required sick leave, marijuana legalization, concealed carry of weapons, break and lunch requirements.
-The Size of your Business. With a certain amount of employees, you are required to abide by and provide different laws and benefits. A few to look at: over 50 employees- FMLA; over 15 employees- pregnancy discrimination act; over 50 employees- provide health insurance; depending on size and location- maternity leave policy.
Below, we have a free employee handbook template that you can use and tweak according to your individual Company’s requirements and guidelines.
Outline and Table of Contents
Our Core Values
STATEMENT ON ETHICS
CONFIDENTIALITY AND NON-DISCLOSURE
ELECTRONIC AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS
Email and Other Electronic Communication
Caring for the Company’s IT Systems
Personal Time Off (PTO)
Quality Work Environment
STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
This Handbook is intended only to be used by employees of ___________________ (hereinafter referred to as the “Company”). If you have any questions or difficulty understanding the contents of this handbook, please ask.
_(company name)_ started up in _(year)_, and we’ve been on an epic ride ever since. We first started as a place to _______________, but now has evolved into the fastest growing __________. Built with one focus – _(company name)_ has created an exceptional experience for our community to find local employment opportunities. We owe a huge appreciation to our community for the support and trust as we have been building our very own success story.
To Connect ______ with _________.
Our Core Values
You were hired because we believe your experience, ability, and attitude will contribute to our Company’s success. You should be able to enjoy working with the people here and they with you. You can expect fair and respectful treatment from others in our Company. You will get the most out of your job by expecting to improve yourself and by doing good work. When each person works at doing better, the group, including the entire Company, makes more progress. One of our goals is a work environment that fosters teamwork and mutual respect. Your positive attitude, even when things may not be perfect, will benefit everyone. We encourage you to express constructive suggestions and ideas. It’s all about the team at ________________!
While we look forward to a favorable outlook to the future, there are no certain roads to success in this Company. No one’s job is guaranteed and nothing contained in this handbook should be considered either an express or implied contract of employment. Employment is voluntary for both you and the Company. You or the Company may terminate your employment at any time for any reason not prohibited by law. No one, other than the President of the Company, and then only in writing, has any authority to enter into an agreement for employment for a specific period of time or make arrangements contrary to this statement.
We believe the greatest rewards accrue to both you and the Company when all of us work together with a constructive, devoted attitude in a positive ethical climate.
_(company name)_ is committed to honesty, integrity, dedication and loyalty. The Company expects the highest standard of ethical practice in dealing with customers, suppliers, competitors, government agencies, the general public and your fellow employees. These standards include:
Employees often have access to confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information. You must use and/or disclose information learned or acquired through your association with the Company only for the performance of your job. Particular care must be taken to keep confidential any information of possible value to competitors or potentially damaging to customers, or information received under an express or implied confidentiality obligation. You are prohibited from using, copying, or disclosing any such confidential information to any other person, employee, firm, corporation, or other entity, either during or after your employment, except as authorized by the CEO.
Confidential information includes, but is not limited to, data processing and computer programs and operations; financial information; lists of actual and prospective customers; customer purchase prices; Company training materials and handbooks; and personnel information and data.
Every qualified person has the same opportunity for hire, assignment and advancement without regard for race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (over 40), disability, sexual orientation, military status, or status as a Vietnam-era or special disabled veteran as these are defined by law. You, and all members of the _(company name)_ Team, are expected to work in harmony with others.
It is a violation of Company policy and federal law to subject any employee to harassment. Any harassment, whether based on race, sexual orientation, gender, age (over40), religion, disability, invasion of privacy or national origin, is prohibited. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other offensive conduct that is either sexual in nature, or directed at or about someone or a group because of gender. Sexual harassment undermines the employment relationship by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Some examples of harassment may include:
Observance of this policy is a condition of employment. Any employee who experiences or observes conduct believed to constitute harassment should tell the harasser that the behavior is offensive and that you want it to stop. If you are unable to confront the harasser or are unsuccessful in convincing him or her to stop, immediately report the incident to company leadership so the incident may be fairly investigated and any prompt remedial action needed may be taken. There will be no retaliation against any employee who reports a complaint or who provides a witness statement during the investigation. Reports of alleged harassment will be treated as discreetly and confidentially as possible. No employee will be retaliated against for lodging a good faith complaint with management under this policy. Any employee who believes he or she is being subjected to retaliation should promptly report this to one of the individuals listed above.
_(company name)_ is committed to a safe, productive, and drug-free work environment. We are also committed to promoting the general health and well being of all employees. We want to prevent substance abuse and encourage people who abuse drugs or alcohol to find help.
Our computers, computer networks, software, telephone systems, fax machines, internet access, data stored on personal devices and other information technology (together, the “IT Systems”) are Company property and are provided to assist you to be used for business purposes in fulfilling your duties and in the course of normal operations.
The Company expects you to use the IT Systems responsibly and in compliance with all applicable laws, and normal standards of professional and personal courtesy and conduct. In short, we expect you to use good judgment in the use of any IT systems.
Using an IT Systems inappropriately exposes both you and the Company to significant risks, including virus attacks, compromises of IT Systems, services and records, inappropriate disclosure of Company and personal information, and significant legal issues.
This policy applies to you and all Company employees. This includes all permanent full time and part time employees, as well as any temporary staff contracted by the Company, consultants, interns and employees hired through a temporary agency.
You may use the Company’s IT Systems for limited, occasional personal purposes. However, your personal use must not interfere with or conflict with your or others’ assigned work duties, disrupt the work of co-workers, or violate Company policy (including the Company’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies).
The Company reserves the right to monitor your use of the IT Systems and to access any file or record (including deleted, archived and encrypted files, emails, text messages and voicemails) in the IT Systems.
You may not use any of the Company’s IT Systems (including but not limited to Internet access) to access, transmit, store, print, display or request offensive material. Offensive materials are anything that could be considered obscene, pornographic, erotic, profane, racist or sexist or other offensive material , including images, messages, video or sound, material that violates ____________’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and material that creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment
The Company’s policy is to honor all copyrights and obey copyright laws.
Do not use the Company’s IT Systems to violate any copyright laws, including copying, ripping, downloading, uploading, storing, transmitting or making available any unauthorized copies of copyrighted materials, including text, photographs, music, movies, videos or other media. Do not copy, scan or digitize photographs, illustrations or text from books, magazines, periodicals or other copyrighted sources.
The Company holds all communications using the IT Systems, whether by voice, fax, e-mail or any other means, to the same standards as any other business communication, including compliance with the Company’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Please take care when using email, as it can easily be printed, forwarded to others, intercepted or even altered by third parties.
Incoming email can introduce viruses and malicious programs and code. Do not open an email attachment if you do not know the nature of the attachment or the sender. Simply viewing some Internet sites can also introduce viruses and malicious programs and code. Be careful which sites you access. Do not disable firewalls or antivirus programs. You should keep logon IDs and passwords secure. Do not share accounts or divulge Internet addresses, telephone dial-up numbers, logins or passwords to anyone, including family members. You should keep all Company data stored on any media or device secure from possible theft or damage. Take special care with portable or laptop computers, smartphones or other handheld devices, as they are especially vulnerable to theft.
You should take every effort not to damage or cause unusual wear on the Company’s IT assets. Please use computer cases, padding, or other protective devices when transporting any device. Please use appropriate surge protection equipment.
A good Total Rewards program must maintain many elements to attract and retain quality talent. The following elements are those we feel are important to our employees.
Direct compensation is the wages you receive for doing the basic work for which you are hired. Each employee’s individual pay rate is reviewed periodically and is a product of market research and internal needs of the company. We consider your pay confidential and believe you should too. Discussion with others concerning your pay is discouraged. Wages are paid biweekly using direct deposit of net pay into accounts in financial institutions. Pay stubs documenting gross and net pay along with other deductions are provided to each employee through individual Gusto accounts.
Some employees enjoy additional pay as they hit sales and marketing goals. The parameters set with incentive pay are based on multiple factors which company leadership establishes.
_(company’s)_ “vacation year” is based upon an anniversary year. This means that your vacation year begins on the date you started work with our Company and runs until the day before that date in the next calendar year.
All regular full-time employees are eligible to accrue up to 10 paid vacation days during the 3 years of employment. These paid vacation days are accrued on a pro rata basis – that is, you will accumulate one paid vacation day for each 1.5 months of uninterrupted service. After that, you will accumulate vacation according to the following schedule:
New employees will accrue vacation per the schedule above however, vacation days may not be used until after 90 days of continuous employment.
You will not accrue vacation during unpaid leaves of absence.
In an effort to accommodate the desires of our employees who would like to take their vacations early in the year, employees will be permitted to “borrow” against the vacation they expect to accrue over the course of a vacation year. You should understand, however, that if your employment with our Company is terminated for any reason prior to the time that you have accumulated the number of vacation days taken during the vacation year, you will be responsible for reimbursing our Company for the amount of used but unaccrued vacation. At the time you “borrow” against the unaccrued vacation, you will be expected to execute a written authorization that would allow the Company to deduct the amount of used but unaccrued vacation from your final paycheck, should that be necessary.
Accrued but unused vacation time may not be carried over from year to year.
Please notify company leadership as far in advance as possible of the time you wish to take your vacation. Requests for scheduled vacation must be submitted in writing. To ensure that our Company’s staffing and operational needs are met at all times, the Company reserves the right to grant vacation requests at its discretion. PTO requests will be approved by company leadership based on the needs of the company and clientele and is done so on a first-come, first-serve basis. We stress to you the importance of three thing as you take time off:
_(company name)_ is a fun place to work. We pride ourselves in having a great office space and fun people to work with, we pride ourselves in being a company that operates behind this purpose:
We create a positive impact on people’s lives through innovative solutions to find employment which allows each person to be the best version of his or herself.
As this reality resonates through each one of us, we find joy in our work everyday. Team Building events, daily collaboration and servant leadership make for a great day at the office all year round.
At __________ we are proud of our work ethic. Each member of our team works fulfilling productive days. A work-day is defined as 9 hours with appropriate and periodic breaks (lunch, snacks, a call home, etc.) The core business hours of ___________ in which every employee must be at the office is from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Some examples of flexible work schedules might include:
The options above are available in an effort to accommodate for heavy traffic and/or other family obligations. However, in choosing a schedule you must communicate to company leadership for the purpose of consistent adherence to the chosen schedule.
On occasion travel for business purposes will be necessary. It is important for employees to always choose the lowest fare routing option for air travel, lodging, car rental and all other means of travel.
All travel expenditures must be made on a company issued credit card or recorded on an expense reimbursement form. These forms must be submitted with all accompanying receipts in order to be reimbursed.
When using personal vehicles for business travel, logged miles will be reimbursed at the standard rate established by the IRS each year. This too should be recorded and calculated on the reimbursement form.
Reimbursement will be allowed for expense of meals within reasonable limits. “Reasonable” is a matter of judgment inasmuch as the cost of meals will vary by location. Meals attended by multiple employees should be paid for and submitted for reimbursement by the most senior employee present.
The Company is committed to paying exempt employees for their performance on a salary basis in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Company prohibits deductions from exempt employees’ pay that are barred by the FLSA. If you believe an improper deduction was made from your salary, please promptly report your concern.
Employees are to abide by federal and state laws and regulations, as well as other commonly accepted standards of business and personal conduct while at work or engaged in activities that place you as a representative of the Company. These standards include honesty, integrity, and mutual respect for fellow employees and customers. Employees are further expected to observe and comply with all policies and performance standards that may be established by the Company.
Violation of laws, regulations, general work standards, or Company policies may result in discipline up to and including discharge, depending on the circumstances involved. Listed below are examples of the kinds of problems that may result in discipline or discharge. (The examples are not all-inclusive and do not reflect every circumstance that may result in discipline or discharge—they are intended as general guidance regarding Company standards and expectations.)
The Company strives to consistently provide our customers with the highest level of service. In order to realize our commitment to quality customer service, we expect you to do the following:
Thank you for taking the time to review this handbook. If you have any questions or difficulty understanding the contents, please ask for assistance immediately. You will be held responsible for its contents. Our intention is to give you a better understanding of what to expect from us, as well as what we expect from you. We are excited to have you on board as part of the _(company name)_ team!
I have received a copy of the handbook and I understand I am responsible for becoming familiar with its contents. I realize my continued employment is subject to my compliance with the policies contained in this handbook and any revisions made to it. I understand the handbook provides only an overview, that it is not all-inclusive, and that it does not necessarily contain all Company practices and policies in force. If I have a question, or if there is any policy or provision in the handbook that I do not understand, I am responsible to seek clarification. I acknowledge this handbook supersedes policies issued prior to this date. I recognize the handbook is subject to future change and that the Company may modify, deviate from, or eliminate policies from time to time at the Company’s discretion.
I acknowledge that this handbook is not a contract of employment nor is my employment for any fixed term. My employment is completely voluntary both for the Company and me, and may be terminated either by me or the Company at any time for any reason not prohibited by law. No supervisor or manager, except the President (who can only do so in writing) has any authority to make any promise or agreement to the contrary. A copy of this acknowledgment is kept in my employee file.
Employee Name (please print)
Employee Signature Date
Remove this sheet and place in employee’s personnel file.
If you would like to download a free employee handbook template, you can EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK TEMPLATE.
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