Having an employee handbook is a great way to introduce new employees to your company and the various policies you have in place.
There are several issues you are required by law to cover in your handbook. For example, you must have family medical leave policies listed in the handbook under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as equal employment and non-discrimination policies and worker’s compensation policies. Other issues you might be required by law to cover include information regarding accommodation of people with disabilities, policies on military leave and policies for leave of victims with crimes.
But what about issues that are not legally required? What might you want to include in your handbook, or what could potentially be helpful for your employees? Here are a few ideas.
- A statement that the handbook is the ultimate procedural document: To eliminate any potential for confusion if you had previously used other policy documents, there should be a clarifying statement that your handbook is the final word on all company policies, superseding any previous documents that existed. Be sure to note that its policies are subject to change as needed.
Employee acknowledgement: To protect your business, you should have a page that your employee signs and returns to indicate he or she acknowledges the policies outlined in the book and that he or she is responsible for knowing and following the rules outlined in it.
- Company history: It can be helpful to write a brief overview of your company’s history, and include a company mission statement, a market position overview and other information that will help set the tone of the handbook and provide more character and contextualization for your company.
- Paid time off: If your company has a vacation or PTO policy, you should include that in the handbook. It should indicate the holidays your company observes, how vacation time is earned and how vacation can be scheduled. This is also a good place to discuss sick leave, FMLA leave and military spousal leave.
- Behavioral guidelines: Lay out general behavioral expectations of employees, including attendance, breaks and employee conduct. Common specific examples include smoking bans, substance abuse policies, internet use policies, dress code and employee harassment and discrimination policies. You don’t need to go into too much detail.
- Payment: Include information about payment methods, pay grade structure and promotion opportunities. If you have compensation packages such as stock offers, this is where you’ll want to outline them.
- Benefits: Be sure to outline the various benefits your company offers, such as life insurance, health care, dental, vision and retirement plans. Don’t discuss any specific policies with companies here—your benefit offerings are likely to change. Instead, provide general information about the available benefits, who is eligible for those benefits and the criteria for eligibility for those benefits.
For more information about how to create a thorough employee handbook, contact an experienced corporate planning attorney in the U.S. Virgin islands.
Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full service business law firm assisting clients in the U.S. Virgin Islands.