Why You Need an Employee Handbook
By: Jenny Wiley, Practice Operations Advisor, PECAA

The start of 2018 is an excellent time to create an employee handbook (or, make updates if you already have one). It’s one of the most important tools in your practice and sets the standard for the employee/employer relationship.

What to Include

Creating a handbook can seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the unnecessary risk you expose your practice to by not having one. A common misconception that keeps practices from creating an employee handbook is they think it needs to cover every little aspect of the practice. While it should be comprehensive, it doesn’t need to read like War and Peace. Keep your language free of legal or technical jargon, which makes the handbook too complicated for employees to use and understand. Make it readable and accessible instead.

A good employee handbook should set expectations and policies. Once it’s in writing, the practice must adhere to the policies set forth or run the risk of being liable.

Your handbook needs to include:

-Disclaimer: Your employee handbook should clearly state that the handbook is not a contract of
employment and should expressly state the at-will nature of employment. This is essential to preventing terminated employees from suing you for a breach of contract claim (i.e., that the employee handbook was a contract of employment)
-Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies
-Violence and bullying prevention policies
-Family, medical and military leave policies
-Employee benefits: Vacation, holidays, a brief description of medical/dental benefits, retirement, etc.
-Pay policies: Paydays, timekeeping, overtime eligibility, etc.
-Any other information to comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws

Your handbook can also include:
-An introductory statement of your company culture, mission statement, and core values
-Office closures
-Standard operating hours
-Conduct, behavior and discipline policies
Get Your Handbook Reviewed

Now that you have taken the time to create or update your handbook, you will want to have it reviewed for compliance with federal, state and local laws. Each state has different employment laws that should be
considered during the review. This step is essential as you want to ensure all required policies are included, and that the language you have used isn’t unintentionally creating a liability or any type of implied contact claim.

There are many ways to have your handbook reviewed, including a local attorney or HR consulting firm. As a PECAA Member, strategic partner AmeriBen will review your handbook at a reduced rate, which is based on your number of employees and where your practice is located. They also offer handbook templates that you can download at no charge.

Questions? Contact Jenny Wiley at Jenny@pecaa.com.

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