Employee Handbook? Yes, You Need One

Mercer PeoplePro Blog Employee Handbook

Employee Handbook — More Than Just a Nice-to-Have

Most small businesses with fewer than 25 employees don’t create an employee handbook simply because they think they don’t need one. After all, they interact with each and every member of the team on a daily basis — they feel almost like a second family.

But hang on a minute — an employee handbook isn’t just a nice-to-have it’s an important document that can make training new hires easier, minimize internal conflict and more importantly, prepare a company for lawsuits if anything does go wrong.


Most small business can’t sustain fighting a court case, so being clear about policies can help keep them from spending money that could be better used growing the business than on on legal fees.

Convinced? Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

Family Medical Leave Information

Depending on the size of your small business, the U.S. Department of Labor will require you to provide a certain number of days off because of the birth of a child or for the care of a child. For most small businesses, this number is around 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period of time.

Care for an immediate family member who is ill, whether that’s a spouse, a child or an elderly parent also applies in most cases. If you’re not sure if you’re required to provide this kind of leave, check with the U.S. Department of Labor for more information.

If you provide additional family medical leave or incentives for employees, make this clear in your handbook as well. Family-oriented companies often provide partial paid leave for employees, after they have a child, as an incentive to recruit people who may otherwise take jobs elsewhere.

Including information about other types of leave like military leave, crime victims leave and breast-feeding in the workplace can also help you avoid confusion and issues with employees who aren’t sure of what’s allowed and what is not.

Worker’s Compensation Policies

State laws for worker’s compensation vary, but if you’re hiring full-time employees, chances are you will have to provide compensation if they are injured on the job. You’ll need to check individual information for your state to see what is applicable based on the size of your business.

One thing that doesn’t really change from state to state though is that the government wants all businesses to put worker’s compensation policies in writing. Providing worker’s compensation information to employees before they begin working with you can also help to avoid problems down the road if an employee gets injured on the job but doesn’t follow the proper procedures.

If you can, add a checklist or to-do list that relates to worker’s compensation. Your employees will benefit from this and you’ll avoid serious issues that could cost you in court if injuries do occur in your workplace.

Equal Opportunity Standards

Non-discrimination and equal opportunity standards are important for modern employers looking for a well-rounded team of skilled employees. Making your non-discrimination policies clear and available in writing is also something that the U.S. Department of Labor will require for many small business owners.

Examples of information you might want to include are policies on hiring disabled individuals, and service veterans, as well as policies that ensure there is no religious or sex-related discrimination in your workplace. Policies you have to deal with discrimination in the office can also be included in this section if you wish.


HR Expertise On Demand

Need help creating an employee handbook? You’ve come to the right place. Schedule an appointment today and enjoy a free consultation, plus 2 free hours towards your first project. To set up your free consultation, visit MercerPeoplePro — we’re standing by and ready to assist.






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