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What should your employee handbook include?

A handbook for employees is a vital tool for employers and employees alike. This document can set expectations, answer frequently asked questions and provide workers with important resources to help them navigate any challenges that may arise through the course of their job.

If you are an employer who is creating or updating your company's handbook, though, it can be difficult to assess what specifically you should put in your manual. To help you get started, below are some of the more standard, basic pieces that can be particularly important to include.

Information on wages and hours

Include information on compensation, work schedules, overtime policies, as well as specifics on the rules for attendance, punctuality and break times.

Clauses that protect sensitive information

Non-disclosure agreements, non-compete clauses and confidentiality statements can be important in preventing the release of confidential information, so it can be wise to include such information in the manual. You can also discuss proper email, messaging and computer usage practices to keep digital data secure.

Rules and requirements for misconduct in the workplace

Setting clear expectations, boundaries and penalties for harassment and discrimination in your handbook can send the message right off the bat that such misconduct is unlawful and will not be tolerated. You can also include information on how to report such conduct.

General information 

General information on the various rights and protections employees have can be essential pieces to include, from termination and background check policies to Occupational Safety and Health Administration contact information and workers' compensation benefits details.

Even the basic elements of an employment manual can become overwhelming when it comes to putting everything together and ensuring it is all legally sound. Because of this, and because of how effective a handbook can be in preventing costly business and employment disputes, it can be wise to work with an attorney when creating, revising or enforcing the information in these handbooks.

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