By: Christopher M. Mason
“Just as with a finely crafted building, an employee handbook requires a level foundation, firm support and an eye for detail. There is no “standard” handbook and no two should be exactly alike. Employers should think twice before downloading a form handbook from the internet or “borrowing” a handbook from another employer. Variations in state, city and county laws, industry standards and employer practices necessitate customized policies. Not all material will work in every jurisdiction, and written policy should be dictated by the actual practices within a workplace, not the other way around.
Before putting pen to paper, employers should understand the purpose of a handbook. It is not a contract. It is not a means unto itself simply to comply with law or a repository for legal jargon. Rather, a handbook is a statement of the employer’s workplace expectations. It should be designed to provide employees with insight into what is required in the workplace. A handbook should also make employees aware of their obligations when maneuvering through the often confusing employment landscape. Certainly, it should include policies that are mandated by law and help establish important legal defenses; however, its primary purpose is to serve as a resource that explains the employer’s actual workplace practices and real-life standards. ”
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