September 20, 2023
If your business does not have an employee handbook, it can be tempting to simply search for sample employee handbooks online and use pre-made templates to create one for your own company — especially as a human resources professional who is likely already handling a myriad of tasks.
You may even encounter services that will provide you with ready-to-create employee handbooks based on your specific inputs. After you answer a few questions, the program generates an employee handbook theoretically ready for your use and distribution to your employees.
With such methods for crafting an employee handbook widely available, do you really need an employer defense attorney’s help to create your employee handbook? The answer is a resounding yes, and there are many reasons for this answer.
Why You Need an Employee Handbook
Every business with employees can benefit from having an employee handbook distributed to and read by all employees. If you have only one or two employees, your handbook may not be as extensive and detailed as a company with hundreds or thousands of employees. However, a handbook is still absolutely necessary.
There are several benefits that every business enjoys when it creates an employee handbook.
Clearly Defined Culture and Roles
A handbook can describe your company’s culture and values for your employees’ reference. Your employees’ role within the company can be clearly defined in the handbook, along with policies relating to employee conduct, timekeeping, and disciplinary measures, so employees are aware of what is expected of them and their role within the company.
Established Code of Conduct and Benefits
Setting forth a code of conduct can help employees know what behavior you expect from them. You can use the handbook to outline discipline and termination procedures as well. If your employees have a clear idea of what actions may be taken for certain behaviors, it can help everyone stay on track.
An employee handbook can also describe the benefits employees can earn and take advantage of.
Not having an employee handbook means that these and other issues must be committed to your memory and then communicated to your employees. You will need to constantly remind your workers of them so that they do not forget them.
This approach relies on your memory and the memories of your employees to recall your policies in the moments they need to do so. With a handbook, however, you ensure your policies are always available to your employees.
Convenient Access for Updating and Ensuring Fairness
Updating your handbook to reflect changes in policy or the law is simple, and having a written handbook ensures everyone is aware of the change. Additionally, having a handbook makes it easy for you and other managers to enforce company policy fairly and consistently every time.
Why an Employer Defense Attorney Should Create Your Handbook
Cutting corners in your handbook’s creation can cause serious legal problems for you later. On the other hand, when you ask an experienced employer defense attorney to write your handbook for you, you can rest assured that:
The Handbook Is Tailored to Your Business’s Needs
Do-it-yourself handbooks and templates require you to know what policies your business needs and what those policies should look like. If you are unsure what your business needs are, your handbook can be too bulky — or too sparse — to be useful to anyone.
Your employer defense attorney will spend time getting to know you, your business, and its operations. This information will help your lawyer create a handbook that is specifically designed to address the needs of your business, not someone else’s.
The Handbook Is Updated and Legally Sound
The employment relationship is governed by federal and state laws that change regularly. Researching the most current laws can be time-consuming and distract you from running your business smoothly. You do not want the courtroom to be where your non-discrimination policy is updated.
An experienced employer defense attorney will be most familiar with current employment laws and can draft your handbook accordingly. If you already have a handbook, an attorney can quickly review that handbook and identify the portions that should be updated.
Navigating Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Clauses
Two types of policies that can be especially tricky to deal with are non-competition clauses and non-disclosure clauses. When these matters are litigated, courts will often balance the need for the clause against the employee’s right to work for whomever they choose and say what they want to say.
These policies are the subject of considerable litigation, so having an employer defense attorney with experience drafting handbooks is essential. Your lawyer can offer you the greatest amount of protection the law can afford you without running afoul of the law.
Your Handbook Is Clear and Concise
Self-created handbooks are either too informal and vague about their provisions or written in legal jargon that is unintelligible to most people. A seasoned attorney knows to avoid both of these extremes when crafting your employee handbook.
You can expect terms and provisions to be explained sufficiently to avoid misunderstanding among your managers and employees. At the same time, the language used by your employer defense attorney should be accessible enough that all of your employees can grasp the meaning of what is inside the handbook.
This prevents employees from claiming they did not understand your policies or were confused and did not know what was expected of them.
When to Call an Employer Defense Attorney About Your Employee Handbook
Whether you have an outdated handbook or never had one, retaining counsel to review or draft your handbook is always a good decision. Ideally, you want your attorney to create your handbook before you encounter claims or litigation, as a well-made handbook can help protect against such legal issues.
Having a knowledgeable employer defense attorney draft or update your employee handbook can save you significant time and money in the long term. No matter the size of your business, both you and your employees can benefit from the peace of mind that comes with a comprehensive employee handbook. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal team for assistance. Contact us today for counsel and representation!