Having an Employee Handbook can make a huge difference in deterring a future lawsuit with employees. It can also help you tremendously in creating a more positive work atmosphere and increasing efficiencies. A properly drafted Handbook sets forth the guidelines, expectations and most importantly the policies of your business.
When employees know exactly what is expected of them it reduces their stress and allows them to better focus on their duties. It also removes questions and concerns about the grey areas of vacations, time off, dress code, benefits, and a whole host of other important topics that need to have clarity in a business.
We’ve felt for years, that there are 3 primary reasons to create a quality Employee Handbook, and then review and maintain it on a regular basis.
- Increased Productivity. In fact an Employee Handbook can be even more important for a small business than a large corporation. When you only have a few employees, sometimes staff can take advantage of your good will and the close relationship they may have with you. Define your expectations in writing right from the beginning and it can set the proper tone for your relationship with your employees.
- Termination of an Employee. Now the important legal issue: If you have to terminate an employee, having an Employee Handbook gives us, your attorney, the ammo we need to hold the employee accountable. Verbal expectations, habits and “This is how we just do it around here” don’t cut it when you have to fire an employee for breaching company policy. You certainly don’t want a wrongful termination suit, and if your policies aren’t clearly established in writing, it simply comes down to a “he said-she said” argument. Additionally, when you have written guidelines for employees, don’t forget that there should be a clear procedure and policy for when employees violate the rules and terms of the Handbook (this should also be started in the Employee Handbook).
- Unemployment Claims. Finally, relying on the Employee Handbook can also help prevent a successful unemployment claim by your employee. When you get into an unemployment hearing, if you can provide a signed copy of an Employee Handbook, you start out in the drivers seat and the Hearings Officer knows it. Moreover, make sure you follow the ‘write up’ procedure when an employee is reprimanded. If you have the Handbook but don’t follow the disciplinary procedures, it can reduce its effectiveness to some degree.
If you need help designing your Employee Handbook, please contact one of the attorneys at our office. We can often complete the process for less than $500, depending upon the needs of your company. Please give us a call if you need a consultation on this topic at 435-586-9366 or visit our website at www.kkoslawyers.com.
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Mark J. Kohler is a CPA, Attorney, co-host of the Radio Show “Refresh Your Wealth” and author of the new book “The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom- What Wall Street isn’t Telling You” and, “The Tax and Legal Playbook- Game Changing Solutions For Your Small Business Questions”. He is also a partner at the law firm Kyler Kohler Ostermiller & Sorensen, LLP and the accounting firm K&E CPAs, LLP.