An Employee Handbook is a useful manual which sets out, in some detail, the way in which an employer expects things to be done. They can create and foster a positive working environment in which expectations and obligations are clear and transparent. However, they also have the propensity to become unwieldy, irrelevant documents which are rarely referred to in practice if policies are not carefully selected and seldom updated.
Employee Handbooks should contain an employer’s core policies on holidays and sickness absence – providing more detail on the applicable procedures than contained in the contract.
Detailed policies on information security, data protection and compliance should also be included. These policies should detail information and data security measures, what is and is not permissible, and the obligations imposed on employees in relation to dealing with personal data and ensuring the confidentiality of proprietary information. Clear policies not only influence behaviours but are a useful demonstration of the seriousness with which the business regards such matters.
From a non-contractual perspective, policies on discipline, poor performance and employee grievances should be included. These policies should always be expressed to be non-contractual meaning that whilst they provide useful guidance and should normally be followed, the employer is not legally obliged to apply them to the letter (and importantly will not be in breach of contract should they fail to do so). Equally non-contractual provisions can be useful for certain policies as it permits employers, in most circumstances, to amend policies at will.
Handbooks should also contain policies on health and safety, equal opportunities, social media use, flexible working, whistleblowing, and the full compliment of family friendly rights.
|Introduction||General Handbook overview and introduction to the Company.|
|PART 1 – CONTRACTUAL PROVISIONS|
|Your Contract of Employment||Additional contractual provisions that you may wish not to include in the contract of employment – such as timekeeping, dress code etc. Can be useful but not required.|
|Holidays||Vital. A detailed holiday policy will confirm entitlement, practices for requesting holiday etc.|
|Sickness Absence Policy||Vital. A detailed sickness absence policy will confirm entitlement, practices for notifying of absence, procedures for complying with statutory sick pay procedures etc.|
|Intellectual Property||Recommended unless detailed provisions in relation to the same are included in the contract.|
|Confidentiality||Recommended unless detailed provisions in relation to the same are included in the contract.|
|Data Protection||Vital to ensure appropriate data protection measures in compliance with the GDPR|
|PART 2 – NON-CONTRACTUAL TERMS|
|Anti-Bribery Policy||Vital to comply with Bribery Act 2010.|
|Training and Development||Recommended if the company operates policies to promote training and development and / or contributes to the cost of the same.|
|Health & Safety at Work Policy||Recommended to highlight health and safety obligations and compliance with legislation.|
|Information Technology Policy||Recommended to ensure adequate protection of the Company’s IT systems and ensure appropriate use of email / internet etc. Provides a good basis for disciplinary proceedings in the event of breach.|
|Equal Opportunities||Vital to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and related anti-discrimination legislation. Provides a good basis for disciplinary proceedings in the event of breach.|
|Social Media Policy||Recommended to ensure adequate protection of the Company’s IT systems and ensure appropriate use of email / internet etc. Provides a good basis for disciplinary proceedings in the event of breach.|
|Non-Contractual Disciplinary Procedure||Vital. Legally required by the Employment Rights Act 1996.|
|Non-Contractual Performance Review Policy||Recommended to ensure appropriate procedures are put in place in the event of concerns about poor performance.|
|Non-Contractual Grievance Procedure||Vital. Legally required by the Employment Rights Act 1996.|
|Whistleblowing Policy||Vital to ensure that any concerns are raised via appropriate internal channels and to limit the risk of employment claims of detriment following the raising of concerns / whistleblowing.|
|Maternity Leave and Pay||Recommended to ensure that staff and managers comply with the UK’s provisions in relation to maternity rights.|
|Paternity Leave||Recommended to ensure that staff and managers comply with the UK’s provisions in relation to paternity rights.|
|Adoption Leave and Pay||Recommended to ensure that staff and managers comply with the UK’s provisions in relation to adoption rights – although as it affects fewer people than maternity companies may chose to omit the formal policy and procedure from the Handbook and to simply produce it as and when required.|
|Parental Leave||Recommended to ensure that staff and managers comply with the UK’s provisions in relation to parental leave.|
|Flexible Working||Recommended to ensure that staff and managers comply with the UK’s provisions in relation to the right to request flexible working.|
|Special Leave||Not essential but can be useful to highlight other rights to time off such as those relating to Jury Service.|
|Retirement Policy||Recommended – the UK has no default retirement age and a policy such as this can make opening a conversation about retirement easier.|