Many Texas small business owners eschew creating an employee handbook. As a small business owner you may believe that a handbook is unnecessary since you have fewer than say, 15 employees. But an employee handbook, when intelligently crafted, can serve both staff and owners.
3 things every employee handbook should have
- Every new employee has first -week jitters. An employee handbook is a great way to introduce someone new to the culture, expectations and rules of your enterprise. Most employees want something concrete to consult should they have a question about requesting time off, dress code or breaks.
- Your handbook should clarify terms. For example, what is meant by employment-at-will? What are the expectations for employer privacy (trade secrets) and employee social media posts that mention the company? When will employees receive overtime, what is the agreed upon hourly wage and when are performance reviews and raises given? You should include a section on workplace safety and what steps an employee should take if they do not feel safe at work due to harassment or discrimination. It is also helpful to let employees know about how they will be informed and what will happen should they fail to meet the standard of performance that is expected or required.
- Many employees wonder whether the employee handbook constitutes a contract. It certainly can if written that way. However, most employers know that, given the unpredictable nature of the economy and potential negative impact of world-wide events, it is better to have a handbook that is a meaningful guide that offers flexibility. A well-worded disclaimer can afford an employer the latitude needed to adjust to rapidly changing outside influences. This language makes it clear to the employee that your business may need to make changes to the terms of employment and that you are free to do so. This way, everyone understands what the employee handbook is and is not. This also offers employers protection should an issue escalate to involve legal professionals or court.
Small business owners can benefit from a well-written and carefully crafted employee handbook. An experienced employment law attorney may be a good first step if your business does not currently have a handbook, or if your handbook is outdated. The National Federation of Independent Business website offers additional information on what to include in your employee handbook.