How To Avoid Employment Disputes With an Employee Handbook

employer and employee shaking hands over document

There’s a lot that goes into being an employer. You’re legally required to provide an environment that’s conducive to your team members, and this includes everything from proper compensation to good employer-employee conduct. It helps when you and your team both know what the company’s policies are—this keeps people from going astray and ensures you have guidelines to follow if anyone does.

One of the many ways employers communicate their expectations to their employees is through an employee handbook. Let’s talk about how a well-written handbook can help you avoid employment disputes at the workplace.

What Is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is a comprehensive booklet that offers new staff members insight into the company's mission, policies, workplace code of conduct, vision, and values. These handbooks are a great way for employees to familiarize themselves with the culture of their new workplace and make it easier for them to settle right in. Some people also refer to this handbook as an employee or staff manual, employee field guide, and culture code.

Why Are Employee Handbooks Important?

Many relationships, professional and otherwise, break down due to an issue in communication. Poor communication leads to mismatched and mismanaged expectations, and this often happens when an employer isn’t clear about what they need from their team.

An employee handbook is a perfect way to communicate your expectations to your employees. This handbook points out everything you require from the team, including the appropriate dress code, your stance on workplace relationships, and more.

An employee handbook may also showcase the benefits you offer to your employees, such as health insurance and vacation time. A great benefits package is an effective way of retaining your best and most motivated team members, and employee handbooks are the perfect way to show the benefits your company offers.

What Should an Employee Handbook Include?

Employee handbooks will vary depending on who wrote them and the company they were prepared for. That said, every well-written staff manual should contain certain key information. This includes:

Introduction for New Hires

This is a message from the CEO welcoming new employees aboard. This is a chance for the employer to establish a connection with new hires by thanking them for joining the company. This section may also serve as a re-introduction for older employees that are getting an updated or revised handbook.

Employer’s Mission Statement

What is the company’s reason for existence? What niche are you trying to fill, and what’s the biggest goal you have for your business? You can include all this information in your employee handbook. This is a great way for new team members to acquaint themselves with your company’s mission, vision, and goals.

Employer Expectations

Is there a specific way you’d like your employee to conduct themselves as they represent your business? What time do you expect them to be in the office? An employee handbook will help you communicate the expectations you have for your new employees. This will give them a reference point they can always go back to when they need to in the future.

Employee Expectations

What should your employees expect you to do for them? A well-written employee handbook should contain a section on the legal obligations you have as an employer. This may include:

  • Timely payment of wages
  • Safe and conducive working environment
  • Well-defined job description and responsibilities
  • Adequate training
  • Equal opportunity for promotion
  • Fair and constructive feedback from management and supervisors

Having these written down is an effective way to prove to your new hires how seriously you take your responsibilities as an employer.

Business Procedures and Code of Conduct

When writing an employee handbook, you should include a section on the workplace code of conduct. This will help new team members to get a clear picture of the kind of business you’re running and how you expect them to conduct themselves. This section may include clarification on the following:

  • Do you have a dress code?
  • What’s the company policy on workplace relationships?
  • What is the procedure for reporting harassment and other challenges to management?

It’s crucial for new hires to become familiar with the code of conduct at your business. What better way to do this than by including it in your employee handbook?

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

This section is an opportunity for an employer to ascertain that they provide employment opportunities based solely on the applicant’s qualifications, experience, and expertise. Remember to mention that your company’s employment practices are free from gender discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, disability discrimination, and more.

Can Your Employee Handbook Help During Conflict?

While an employee handbook is an effective tool for diffusing conflict in the workplace, a

well-written handbook can be what you need to stop such conflicts from arising in the first place. Staff manuals communicate your expectations, business policies, code of conduct, and other important information to your team members. Since they’re fully aware of their job responsibilities and how you expect them to conduct themselves at work, they’re less likely to make mistakes.

These handbooks typically also explain how your staff can report any instances of harassment and discrimination, which ensures that such incidents are nipped in the bud as they occur. This will help create a harmonious working environment in the long run. Whenever conflicts arise at work, make sure to refer to the employee handbook at all times. Implementing all the policies you’ve outlined in the manual helps convey the message that the company takes the handbook seriously. This should soon resonate with your team.

How Employee Handbooks Can Be Used in Employment Cases?

While Employee handbooks are helpful in establishing uniformity in the workplace, they are can be imperative in litigation against the Employer. If an employer is accused of violating an employee's rights, the employee handbook can be used as evidence in a legal case. Since the handbook outlines all workplace policies, procedures, and protocols that must be adhered to in order to ensure that employees' rights are not violated, it is crucial to show how the Employer did not follow its own policies, procedures and the such. By providing proof of an employer's written commitment to adhere to certain policies and procedures, it is easier to prove that an employee's rights were indeed violated by the employer.|

If your rights, as provided in your Employee Handbook, have been violated, contact us today to see if you have a legal case against your employer. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or Encino, you can give us a call at 888.851.5005 or talk to us online about creating an employee handbook for your business, and we’ll be happy to help!