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MECA Consulting Blog

What Does Your Policy Handbook Say?

Monday, January 04, 2016

When was the last time you looked at your policy guide? Did you have to dust it off? This guide may be one of the two most important pieces of documentation you have in your office (the Procedure Guide is the other one). Its contents have the ability to clarify expectations and policies, as well as settle disputes and make sure that the interoffice playing field is even. A well-done policy manual is clear, well written and very specific in terms of policy and how these policies protect both the employer and employee alike. All policies should be written in a positive light and see the performance expectations for both staff and management. When everyone is clear about their expectation, many issues are averted. The key to this being a successful document is what is included in the manual and how the policies are worded.

Here is a guideline for what sections should be included in a policy handbook:

  1. Company History. May include a company history, mission statement, and general philosophy
  2. General Employment Information. Includes general employment policies covering employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, employee records, job postings, probationary periods, termination and resignation procedures, transfers and relocation, and union information.
  3. Standards of Conduct. Document expectations of how the employees are expected to conduct themselves, including dress code and ethics.
  4. Compensation. Describes deductions for federal and state taxes, as well as voluntary deductions for the company's benefits programs. In addition, it may outline the legal obligations regarding overtime pay, pay schedules, performance reviews, salary increases, time keeping records, breaks and bonuses.
  5. Employee Benefits. This section should also outline health, dental, vision and life insurance. It may also cover retirement plans and wellness programs.
  6. Paid Time-Off Policy. This may include company's vacation policy, such as how vacation time is earned, and how to schedule time off. It should also describe holidays and holiday compensation as well as sick leave, family medical leave, and other types of leave, such as military spousal leave, jury duty, and lunch periods.
  7. Leave Policies. The company's leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those required to provide by law. Family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. In addition, the policies for vacation, holiday, bereavement and sick leave should be clearly outlined.
  8. Employee Behavior. This may include attendance policy, and general expectations of employee conduct. This can include stating a policy against employee harassment discrimination, bans on smoking, a substance abuse policy, how employees may use the Internet or e-mail, and a dress code.
  9. Disciplinary Policies. Define employee misconduct and explain the consequences of such actions.
  10. Anti-Discrimination Policies. Equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  11. Work Schedules. Describe the company's policies regarding work hours and schedules, attendance, punctuality and reporting absences, along with guidelines for flexible schedules and telecommuting.
  12. Safety and Security. Safety policies should also include the company's policy regarding bad weather and hazardous community conditions.
  13. Computers and Technology. Outline policies for appropriate computer and software use, and steps employees should take to secure electronic information, especially any personal identifiable information collected from the customers.

There are a few rules to consider. Always try to use very straight forward and non-ambiguous language. Be as simple and clear as possible. Make sure that all employees get a copy and sign a consent form that they have read it and agree to it. Any times you make an update to this policy manual you need to reaffirm written consent.

The most important rule is to take time and think about the policies and how they impact the business as a whole. Plan on this manual taking 20-40 hours to design, write, produce and complete. Of course, you also have the option of downloading ours if you choose. We now offer an a la carte menu if you do not want to sign-up for a membership. To download our policy manual Click Here.

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