By Eve Clennell
I was told at a networking event recently that I need a staff handbook because I employ people? Is this true?
The simple answer is no. However there are various policies and procedures that you legally must to have in place. It’s usual for these to be included in a staff or employee handbook. Even with one employee you’re required to have statutory Grievance and Disciplinary Policies and Procedures. However with 5 employees (this includes Directors of a Limited Company) you are also required to have a written Health and Safety Policy. There are also additional responsibilities when you reach 5 employees, beyond the policies and procedures described above.
So what is a handbook and what is the point of having one?
A staff handbook is an organised collection of information. It contains Company Policies, Processes and Procedures and it sets expectations of the employee and employer alike. It also gives general information about the Company. It may include the Company’s history, its values and a mission statement, as well as information about amenities and services available to staff. A handbook is a reference source that provides staff with details of your terms and conditions of employment.
What are the benefits of having an employee handbook?
• The importance of an up-to-date employee handbook cannot be over emphasised. Employees must know the rules of their working environment and the basis and justification for these rules (policy) as well as what they and others are expected to do (procedures).
• They are important for employers as they prove that employees are aware of the rules that the organisation is asking them to uphold, and they include information about the obligations accepted by the employer. The employee handbook is a fundamental tool that helps managers run the Company smoothly and efficiently.
• Handbooks offer an opportunity to make a clear statement of what is important to an organisation, including its culture and values. They are a significant aid to induction (but obviously not a substitute) because they provide consistent and clear information that a recruit can read at a convenient time.
• An employee handbook enables written statements of terms and conditions of employment to be a reasonable length. Employers are increasingly required to supply their employees with vast amounts of information that can become unwieldy unless properly managed. The employee handbook is an ideal reference tool that simplifies matters.
• A handbook provides consistency in implementing policies. It ensures that every employee receives the same information and treatment, thereby minimising discrimination claims.
• An unexpected benefit of an employee handbook can be improved employee relations. Clear policies and procedures help to avoid employment tribunal claims and improve employee relations.
An employee handbook is very useful and it will save you money! It is a subject that I have covered with a small amount of detail. If you need further advice and practical help from Eden to develop a handbook that is tailored to your business, please contact me.