Does my business need an employee handbook?

Small business owners have several things to consider when hiring employees. There are multiple forms, tax obligations, and insurances that most employers consider carefully. The employee handbook often gets sidelined to the “I will do that once I have more employees” shelf. The truth is that the employee handbook plays an integral part in creating your company’s culture and letting your employees know the company’s values and guiding principles. Often the first employees set the precedent of how subsequent employees will view and reflect the company’s values and business practices. 

An employee handbook may include the following sections: 

  • Welcome Statement: Welcome new employees to the company and share the company’s vision and values. 
  • Business Practices: Include information about attendance, flex scheduling, employee conduct, performance reviews, social media expectations, conflicts of interest, and outside employment. 
  • Payroll Practices: Include information about employee classifications, business hours, pay period, pay day, timekeeping, bonuses, meal breaks, and general breaks. 
  • Employee Benefits: Include information about retirement contributions; sick, vacation, and pregnancy leave; holidays; and military service leave. 
  • Health and Safety: Include information about drug testing, smoke free workplaces, workplace violence, vaccine mandates, and exemptions for religious or medical reasons. 
  • Teleworking/Remote Working Policies: If these will be ongoing policies. It is best to dedicate a section to the expectations and rules for remote working policies. 
  • Acknowledgement: The employee should sign stating that they have reviewed the policy and understand the expectations as an employee of the company. 

The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) helps local businesses plan and grow for success. If you are a client, please contact your consultant to schedule an appointment. If you are not already a client, you may register for free, confidential business assistance by completing a Request for Consulting form.