Your organization should aim to Develop & Implement a Legally Protected HR Manual Policies and Procedures. A well written HR manual/employee handbook sets forth fundamental organizational rules and guidelines relating to the practices and behavior of the people in the organization. It also communicates what an employee can expect from the organization.
It is very important that the documents should clearly describe the legal obligation of an employer and all the rights of an employee.
The HR manual/employee handbook has very essential information for communicating and describing the workplace policy because they are references in the legal proceedings at the Labour Office and the Industrial Court. All the information mentioned in this should be well explained, correct and accurate.
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A good handbook brings together the information your employees will need about working with the organization. The HR manual will establish human resource policies, procedures and service rules applicable on all categories of employees/staff and consultants
In many organizations, an employee handbook is a primary source for the key information on the daily operations for both the employer and the employee. It is used to provide guidance, information, and tell a story about the organization’s history, mission, values, policies, procedures, and benefits in a written format.
An HR handbook is also viewed as a means of protecting the employer against discrimination or unfair treatment claims. It is an easily accessible guide to the company’s policies and practices as well as an overview of the expectations of management. In contrast, a policy is a written statement that reflects the employer’s standards and objectives relating to various employee activities and employment-related matters.
Employers should require every employee to provide a written acknowledgment of having received, read, and understood the handbook. The acknowledgment should be saved in an employee’s personnel file as a way for the organization to establish that the employee was made aware of the policies.
By no means should the handbook be construed as an employment agreement, which may affect the employment-at-will status. It is imperative to have the handbook reviewed by legal counsel.
Step 1: Review and Make Required Revisions to the Current Company Policies
Company policies and procedures are used as the source for writing the handbook. We work with the employers to Develop and Implement New Company Policies and to add or modify already existing ones.
We scan the work environment for common practices that are currently in place; if there are no policies, they should be developed. Once the employer has updated the policies and formalized the common practices, our legal counsel should review them, and HR uses these final policies for developing the employee handbook.
Employers should be mindful of avoiding overbroad confidentiality rules in handbooks that would prevent employees from discussing wages and other terms and conditions of employment (i.e., protected concerted activities).
For example, it would be unlawful to state “do not discuss outside of work customer or employee information, including phone numbers and addresses.” Instead, a handbook could state, “Misuse or unauthorized disclosure of confidential information not otherwise available to persons or firms outside [Company Name] is cause for disciplinary action, including termination.”
Conduct rules can also be overbroad. For example, it could be unlawful to state in a handbook to “be respectful of others and the company.” Such a statement could be construed by employees as placing restrictions on criticism toward the company (e.g., its working conditions), which is a protected concerted activity.
On the other hand, a handbook could state, “Being insubordinate, threatening, intimidating, or disrespectful or assaulting a manager, supervisor, co-worker, customer or vendor will result in discipline.”
Step 2: Create an Outline of What to Include in the Employee Handbook
The topics included in the employee handbook should cover the employer’s mission statement, equal employment opportunity statement, contractual disclaimer and at-will employment statement, the purpose of the employee handbook, and background information on the company.
The decision to include additional topics is left to the employer. Important factors to consider are legal mandates for the ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development. If an employer fails to communicate these in the employee handbook, there may be confusion and noncompliance with the laws. A sample table of contents can be found at the end of this page.
Step 3: Create Summarized Versions of Each Policy and Procedure
The employee handbook should include a statement that summarizes each policy and procedure. The statements should be easy to read and contain no legal verbiage—in other words, they should speak to the employee audience and be formulated accordingly.
Step 4: Add Each Summary Statement in the Appropriate Sections According to the Outline
Once HR has completed the employee handbook outline, the next step is to write the organization’s position, rules, or policies under each of the outline topics.
Step 5: Review the Entire Handbook
The review process ensures that the information is accurate and easy to comprehend. The handbook may be reviewed by HR, a project team, or both.
Step 6: Provide Finalized Version to Legal Counsel for Review
By reviewing the final version, legal counsel will ensure that it contains no statements that may create contractual agreements.
Step 7: Select a Means of Publication
The next step is to locate a vendor to produce the finished employee handbook. Organizations can seek a request for proposals from a few select vendors. Once the vendor is selected, the employer should work with the vendor through each step in the publishing process, including formatting the handbook to a specific size and style. Once the formatting is complete, a final review and approval should take place before sending the handbook to print.
Step 8: Distribute Handbooks
Once the vendor returns finished copies of the handbooks, the organization must establish a method for distribution, such as during new-hire orientation or as a manual distribution to employees.
Some employers use their intranet or internal e-mail to post the handbook electronically; however, physical copies need to be made available to employees without access to the Internet or at the request of an employee. Posting the employee handbook on the company intranet or via e-mail is also useful when changes to policies are made and need to be communicated to employees.
Step 9: Emphasis on Updating the Handbook as Necessary
An employee handbook is a living document that can’t be hidden in the files and cabinets.
Every employer should establish a point person to be responsible for updating the employee handbook. This is because employment laws or internal policies may change.
It is also very useful to conduct a full handbook review periodically. This can be every one to two years, to ensure that no laws or policy changes have been overlooked. It is necessary to ensure that all policies are still relevant and upheld consistently within the organization.
Below is a sample outline, or Table of Contents, for items that are typically included in an employee handbook. Examples of an Acknowledgment: Handbook Receipt and a sample employee handbook can also be found on the SHRM website.
- Welcome Message to New Employees and Recognition of Current Employees
- Company Mission Statement
- Equal Opportunity Statement
- Contractual Disclaimer and At-Will Statement
- Purpose of the Employee Handbook
- Background Information on the Company
- Policies and Procedures
- Workplace Health, and Safety
- Sexual Harassment
- Drug and Alcohol
- Violence and Weapons
- Time, and Attendance
- Hours of Work
- Meal and Rest Periods
- Working Overtime
- Time Management, and Prioritization
- Personnel Records
- Payroll, Allowable and Statutory Deductions
- Performance Management, and Appraisal
- Termination: Reduction in Rank, Exit, and Recall
- Telephone/E-mail/Internet Use
- Social Media
- Sick Leave
- Disability Leave
- Personal Leave
- Bereavement Leave
- Family and Medical Leave
- Paid Time Off
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Retirement and Pension Plans
- Training and Development
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment Insurance
- Employee and Employer Responsibility for Safety
- The Commitment of the Company
- Emergency Procedures
- Medical Services
- Personal Protective Equipment
- HSSE Requirements: Safety Rules, Reporting Accidents
- Standards of Conduct
- Progressive Discipline
- Exit Process
- Summary and Acknowledgment
- The Importance of the Policies and Procedures
- Acknowledgment of Receipt
We always include a disclaimer that the employer has the right to change the rules without notice, that employment is at-will and that the handbook does not create a contract.