10 “Must-Haves” for an Employee Handbook


As you grow your company from an owner-operated business to a team of professionals, it’s necessary to develop an employee handbook. Small to mid-sized companies implement this documentation to stay compliant with state and federal regulations, as well as reduce the risk of litigation that can destroy a business.

There are many variations of the employee handbook and several ways to approach development. Complete Payroll Solutions (CPS) provides templated samples for standard handbooks. Customized and industry-specific handbooks are typically tailored with the help of CPS’ HR and Compliance experts who work with you to create an online (and hard copy) version that is right for your company.

For some, however, a single handbook alone may not suffice. Multi-facetted businesses that span a variety of industries may require a corporate handbook accompanied by individual guides that pertain directly to a jobsite or locale. It’s not uncommon for states to have their own requirements too, so it’s important that your corporate HR department works in tandem with regional offices to create the right employee handbook for each area.

10 Sections You Should Include in Your Employee Handbook:

1. Company Overview & General Information
Though not required, it’s good to have an introduction to a handbook with an overview and historical look at the company to help transition into the context of the guidelines.

2. Non-Disclosures
Even if it only applies to a small percentage of staff, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should be addressed and emphasize confidentiality and privacy policies in place.

3. Anti-discrimination policies
Required by law, information about equality in the workplace as it relates to gender, race, disability, sexual preference, and religion needs to be in writing.

4. Compensation & Benefits
An overview of eligibility for medical and dental benefits, 401K, and profit sharing should be included, and this section may also cover promotion, demotion and any adjustments in pay.

5. Leave Policies
Family medical leave, bereavement, sick or personal days, and paid time off are some of the leave policies that should be included in the handbook in order to stay compliant.

6. Schedules & Business Hours
Include standard business hours and required methods of time tracking for hourly employees. Work-from-home policies and business travel should also be outlined.

7. Code of Conduct
Policies addressing arrival times, dress codes, excessive absences, and outbound communication should be clear as you discuss employee expectations.

8. Safety & Security
This section discusses reprimanding employees for inappropriate behavior, harassment policies, and reporting procedures to maintain the well-being of all employees.

9. Technology & Social Posting
A recent staple in handbooks are now the guidelines for online usage, social posting, and viral references relating to the company.

10. Signature Page
This one shouldn’t be overlooked. In order to make it official, you’ll need a signature from both a manager and the employee acknowledging that they have read the handbook content.

Employee Handbooks and Onboarding

Reviewing and acknowledging a company handbook should become an integral part of the onboarding process for new hires. It’s important that employees familiarize themselves and abide by this text to avoid warnings or termination.

However, an employee handbook is not a binding contract and should never be referred to as such. While a sign off of the document is kept on file, it in no way guarantees employment despite the adherence to the general rules and regulations.

Employee Handbooks and Compliance

Your company’s employee handbook is a living document. In order to stay compliant, it needs to be updated annually and adjusted as new legislation is announced and your company policies change. For more information about developing your own handbook, or creating amendments to existing documentation that address the latest FLSA rulings, call CPS at 866.658.8800.

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