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Does your business have an employee handbook?

If your company does not have an employee handbook, and you have employees, you may want to consider creating one. An employee handbook serves several purposes, the least of which is to communicate to your employees what you expect of them and what they can expect of their employer.

Moreover, it could provide your business with some measure of security should an employee file a complaint. Everyone within the company needs to understand what constitutes unacceptable behaviors, know how the company handles any complaints and understand the consequences of violating company policies.

Important issues to include

When constructing your employee handbook, it isn't always necessary to be overly specific. In fact, it may sometimes help to leave some of the decision making process to those in charge. Every situation is unique, and allowing for discretion can sometimes provide better options to resolve an issue. Even so, you may want to include at least the following in your handbook:

  • Outline confidentiality provisions that safeguard your business, but do not infringe upon employees' rights.
  • Explain what reasonable accommodations you can provide to employees with either permanent or temporary disabilities.
  • Provide guidelines regarding electronic devices and communications, including social media and smartphone use.
  • Provide information regarding payroll, work hours, wages and overtime. This section may also include any benefits provided by the company to employees, along with deductions from pay.
  • Outline policies regarding sick and vacation time.
  • Include attendance policies.
  • Provide guidelines regarding smoking and the use of marijuana.

You may want to include other policies specific to your business. The handbook also needs to address your company's requirements to adhere to certain federal and state laws regarding the treatment of your employees. This includes addressing discrimination, harassment and retaliation at every level of the company. Employees should know whom to talk to when they have complaints, how investigations will proceed and the possible outcomes.

The importance of a review

You probably already know that numerous laws govern the treatment of employees. Your company must reach a balance between its needs and the needs and protections afforded to employees. In order to ensure that your employee handbook does not either include prohibited provisions or exclude vital ones, you may want to have it reviewed by a Utah employment law attorney.

Thereafter, an annual (or more often depending on the circumstances) review may also be necessary to ensure that it continues to comply with state and federal law. Doing so could help your company avoid miscommunication between employer and employees, along with potential legal issues in the future.

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