Does your Business Need a Staff Handbook?
A staff handbook serves many purposes – yet surprisingly, many businesses still choose to operate without one. However, most HR professionals recommend that you provide every member of staff with a copy, as it ensures employees are familiar with all company policies and procedures.
In this article by our employment specialist Wendy Harris, you’ll find out what a staff handbook should contain, and how it can support your business in the future.
What is a Staff Handbook?
Quite simply, a staff handbook is a document that’s supplied to all members of staff (preferably when they start working with you). It contains important information about your company policies and procedures, and ensures that every employee fully understands what’s expected of them – in terms of behaviour, protocol and responsibilities.
It also outlines what actions to take in the event of any grievance or dispute, and what their entitlements are, with regards to things like maternity / paternity leave, sick leave or redundancy.
Why Does it Matter?
A staff handbook provides valuable protection in the event of an employee raising a grievance against your company. For example, if a member of staff quibbled their rights regarding unauthorised absence, you would be covered; as you’d have already provided them with the handbook, which outlines the company policies and procedures.
It also ensures all team members are on the same page. There’s no room for confusion or ambiguity – everything they need to know is contained within the one document.
What Should Your Staff Handbook Contain?
There are no hard-and-fast rules about what your staff handbook should contain. However, here’s just a few things we recommend you include:
• Key policies. Equal opportunities, health and safety, drugs and alcohol etc.
• Key procedures. Disciplinary rules and procedures, grievance procedures, what happens in the event of a dismissal, redundancy procedures etc.
• Rights. Employee rights regarding maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave (these must be in-keeping with current statutory rights).
• Sickness and absence. Explaining what happens in the event of an authorised or unauthorised absence.
• Data protection, email and internet policies. Fair usage of internet and email in the workplace, plus protocols relating to the protection of sensitive data.
• Flexible / at-home working policies. Options, expectations and procedures – if applicable.
You might also want to include information about payment and bonuses, health and insurance benefits, and workplace conduct. If you’re unsure what should feature in your staff handbook, talk to an HR professional, who will be able to draft a suitable document for you.
Your staff handbook is also a great opportunity to share your company’s ethos and mission statement – which is a valuable motivational tool. By outlining right from the start what the company objectives are, you ensure that all staff share and understand your vision. It provides clear focus about the direction you’re taking as a company, and highlights your employee’s vital role in the process
Professional Employment Services for Business
If you’d like some assistance creating a suitable staff handbook for your employees, or want help with any other aspect of your HR or employment law, please contact our employment specialist Wendy Harris to explore how we can help or why not take a look at our related employment services.