# 2: Not Having A Customized Employee Handbook
A well-written employee handbook is a crucial tool for communicating with your company’s employees. From the first page, the company and its management can set a positive tone by explaining their vision for the company, and help employees visualize how they fit into those plans.
Your company’s employee handbook also sets clear expectations in a variety of key areas. For example, the company can set out its standards for employment eligibility, job classifications, employee benefits, work hours, attendance expectations, and the company’s disciplinary processes. Additional issues often addressed might include probationary employment periods, dress code, general safety programs, leave policies, and its incident and accident reporting requirements.
A well-planned employee handbook also addresses important legal matters such as anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, workers’ compensation, how the company deducts for mandatory federal and state withholding, and applicable Federal and state employment laws such as FMLA, the ADA, and the alphabet soup of other applicable laws. You should also address laws which may regulate employment in your company’s line of business, if applicable.
You will not want to use a generic employee handbook that is not based on your company’s actual operations and specific needs. Neither should companies use handbooks that have not been vetted by an attorney for the states where they operate. For example, South Carolina has a specific statute which, upon compliance, allows employers to feel confident that their employee handbooks can be altered as needed for changing company needs. Failing to comply with this statute can make the employee handbook into a contract, which the employer cannot alter without the employees' agreement.
Once the handbook is in place, it should not sit on a shelf and collect dust. It is important for all company leaders, as well as employees, to become familiar with its terms through review and training. The handbook can be changed, and should be where necessary. But the employee handbook should be followed to ensure continuity and to protect the company. Having legal employment practices in place and following them on a regular basis is good for morale and helps demonstrate that your company treats employees fairly and consistently. Having a predetermined standard for responding to various HR issues also protects a company from serious financial liability, including claims of discrimination and a failure to comply with applicable laws.
Involving an attorney who is knowledgeable of applicable employment laws and familiar with your company's business operations in the drafting and updating of your company's employee handbook, as well as in providing guidance on HR issues, protects businesses' bottom lines by demonstrating compliance with predetermined HR policies and applicable employment laws.