News Column

Does Your Employee Handbook Measure Up?

August 29, 2013

Staff Reports -- HispanicBusiness.com

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Writing an employee handbook lets you set out guidelines and avoid trouble later.

An employee handbook is an effective way to let your staff know about your company's policies, procedures and perks. It can also keep you out of trouble, as Charlotte, N.C., law firm Lewis & Associates points out.

A well-written handbook sets out the company's expectations for its employees, and describes what employees can expect from the company. It should also cover attendance and leaves of absence, dress code, performance expectations and social media use in the workplace.

You can write your own employee handbook, of course, but remember to pay close attention to federal, state and local laws and regulations that may affect your business when drafting it. You may want to create multiple handbooks if you have both exempt and nonexempt employees.

The handbook should include the legal obligations of the employer as well as the rights of the employee.

The employee handbook is the most important internal document that dictates the policies of the company. It should be distributed to every employee of the company, regardless of status.

It is critical to have employment counsel review the handbook before you publish and distribute it. If your company doesn't have an attorney already working with the company or on retainer, it is highly recommended to have the handbook reviewed by an attorney or law firm that specializes in the ever-changing field of employment law. This will give your company added protection if you ever are sued by an employee.

The burden is on the employer to prove that a termination of an employee was justified and legal. Will you be prepared?

A basic employee handbook template, available from the federal Small Business Association, can get you started.

Source: Lewis & Associates.

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Find out how U.S. Hispanic-owned export companies are doing in the Export Enterprises: Expanding the Marketplace overview.


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