How to Develop a Personnel Policy Manual

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Below is a look at eight common sections in employee handbooks. In order to be successful, your employees have to be in alignment with your company's values, missions, and goals.

Personnel Policy Manual

That's why you need to lay out those aims at the beginning of your employee handbook. All you need to do is provide a statement that encompasses what matters most to you as a company. A critical component of your employee handbook is the general information about being employed with your company.

Employee Handbook Guide

This will include topics employees care about, such as:. Keep in mind that some of this material, such as overtime pay rules and workers' compensation coverage , are at least somewhat dictated by federal and state or even local laws. It's important to list all of the current federal, state, and local laws that are pertinent to your workforce. These can include equal employment opportunity, anti-harassment, and anti-discrimination laws. Beyond the requirements of law, you probably have your own expectations for how employees will conduct themselves on the job and so you'll need policies geared to specific on-the-job conduct.


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Such policies may include:. As should not be a surprise to you, the employee benefits section is one of the most frequently referenced sections of your employee handbook. Your handbook likely won't describe all the specifics of, say, your health insurance plan, as those can be quite detailed and that information can be provided separately. But you probably want to give the basics: When is an employee eligible to enroll in the company health plan and how many options do you offer: types of plans, family coverage?

When is the annual open enrollment period? Because your employees will often reference this section — who doesn't like to find out about on-the-job perks? Not every company includes this section, but companies that work in highly competitive industries with trade secrets and concern about employees jumping ship for a competitor may want to have employees sign a non-disclosure agreement or at least include a conflict of interest policy in the employee handbook.

It's important that your employees understand the risks of not following the policies, laws, and procedures that you lay out in the employee handbook.

1. Code of conduct

Consider having a section that explains that they will be held accountable for their actions and behavior. It's important that your employees don't treat your employee handbook like a contractual agreement between you and them — which would mean they could sue you if the policies and procedures within the handbook aren't upheld. Thus, be sure to include a disclaimer that states the employee handbook is not a contract, to protect you against such concerns.

As you start thinking about and planning out your employee handbook, you might realize that you haven't formalized many of your policies or that you still need to consider more thoughtfully what some of your policies should be. Don't worry — this is completely natural.

Many small companies don't think concretely about their policies until they have to explain them in writing. A good place to start when thinking about your employee policies — whether specific to your attendance rules, your dress code, or your performance review process — is to think about your company's culture and values. As the small business owner, think about your personal values and what you want to emphasize.

Also consider how you can create a value system and culture that will motivate your employees to do their best and stay with your company long-term. The culture you want to create should guide your policies and procedures — so it makes sense to at least draft a basic mission statement before designing your company's employee policies and procedures. With your values clearly identified, then think about creating policies that your employees will embrace.

For example, companies looking to attract younger workers often don't want to give the impression of being too strict or overbearing — as it may turn off the millennial workers seeking workplaces that promote flexibility and openness. That said you might — out of necessity — have to be strict about certain policies. You then may be able to be more accommodating or generous in other parts of your workplace practices, such as by providing your employees with more vacation time.

The Top 8 Policies to Include in Your Employee Handbook

While the employee handbook is not a contract with your employees, it does set their expectations, so you must follow federal, state, and local laws when preparing certain parts of your employee handbook. They may even have boilerplate language that companies can use to describe those laws to their employees. You should be able to find descriptions of your state's laws online. You should be able to find detailed descriptions of your state's laws on your state government's website.

The Employment Law Handbook by The Lunt Group also provides links to a wide variety of both federal and state legal resources, including a state-by-state breakdown of employment and labor laws. This will ensure consistency in practice. For example, if one department is OK with employees being late for work, it may not sit well with other departments that enforce a policy for designated office hours. It is unfortunate that we live in a litigious society even churches but it is a reality that we need to navigate.

There is definitely a price tag that comes with having an attorney review your manual. You do this to minimize your legal risk. The goal is to help them understand what benefits are available, what you can expect from them and what they expect from you. Use your employee orientation process to review the manual and have them sign off acknowledging that they have read and understand the contents of the manual. Keep a copy in their employee file. Commit to do an annual review and update to the manual.

This will do two things: 1. Remind you what is in writing. Ensure the manual remains compliant with changing laws. Spend an hour a year reviewing the manual, and resetting expectations with employees. This will reinforce your commitment to policies and procedures and help staff understand their responsibility in complying with what is written in the manual.

2. Communications policy

There are not too many things worse than having a policy that is not enforced — when the occasional legal challenge comes your way. We have created a handbook outline to get you started.


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