Does My Business Need A Company Handbook?

Starting and maintaining your own business can be a very rewarding experience. Helping your family and your community to build up and become more stable and prosperous is a positive goal that can be gratifying and fulfilling. Business ownership does come with a lot of questions and concerns from the owner to make sure that the process is done correctly, including making sure that the owner has fulfilled his or her responsibilities with respect to the employees. To that end, many employers may wonder if their company needs an employee handbook.

In Minnesota, you are not obligated by law to have an employee handbook.  Despite that, many businesses choose to have one. One reason is that it provides a central location for your employees to reference important policies, such as sick leave or disciplinary procedures. The handbook can also provide a place where employees can reference the guidelines for disability or FMLA leave, for example.  This will prevent your manager from having to explain these policies each and every time an employee has concerns or questions.  A handbook can also provide your employees with contact information for how to report certain violations, such as sexual harassment or safety code violations.  Moreover, providing this contact information in writing will make it so that an employee will already have the information necessary to report an infraction if the violator is the employee’s manager.

Employee handbooks can also help to protect the employer.  The employee handbook should contain a statement regarding at-will employment. This statement should be unambiguous about the fact that employment is at-will for both the employer and the employee.  In some very limited circumstances, it could be possible for an employee to allege the handbook actually constitutes a contract and so the employment is not at will, so employers should make sure to have the handbook reviewed by their employment lawyer before distributing it to their employees. Employee handbooks also typically contain a specific code of conduct and dress code, if applicable, so employees are completely clear on what behavior or infractions can result in disciplinary procedures.  This can help protect an employer from wrongful termination allegations, especially where the employee has signed acknowledging a copy of the handbook so he or she should be completely aware of the rules and the consequences for failing to follow them.

Employee handbooks can be a good way to protect both the employee and the employer. Call us today at (651) 371-9117 and we can talk with you about your business and what you should do to make sure you are protected.

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