What is an employee handbook?
Essentially an employee handbook is a list of all your HR policies in one place. It sets out how you'll deal with all HR-related issues and makes your stance on HR topics clear.
Why do I need one?
Employee handbooks are important in terms of laying out how you'll handle HR issues, making sure you handle issues consistently and fairly and making sure that you're compliant with employment law.
What if I don't want one, what's the alternative?
Employee handbooks essentially pull together all the HR policies that you need to have within your business. If you don't want to have one that's fine, but you still need to make sure you have all the relevant policies in place that you need. You might choose to just have all the relevant policies as separate documents and have them in a place that employees can access which is totally fine and essentially does the same job.
Are employee handbooks contractual?
We would always advise our clients to make it explicitly clear that employee handbooks are not contractual and not to include anything that should be in a handbook within a contract of employment. Generally, it's unlikely that the entire handbook can be implied into contracts and typically those creating handbooks would be wise to use clauses outlining that the handbooks or policies contained within them are not contractually binding. Making changes to policies which are incorporated into contracts will require some sort of consultation with employees so making sure your handbooks are not contractual gives you more flexibility as a business if you need to vary them.
What should I include in an Employee Handbook?
Whilst handbooks should include all the policies you need to keep you compliant and others that make it clear how you want people to behave and how they work, there are a number of key policies that it's essential to include within an employee handbook which are;
Sickness absence policy
Equal opportunities policy
Health and Safety policy
Bullying and harassment policy
Whilst the following policies aren't essential (because in some cases like family-friendly policies the law already sets out what you have to do) we'd recommend you have them;
Family-friendly policies like maternity, adoption, parental and paternity leave
Social media policy
Flexible working policy
Drug and alcohol policy
Are there any free resources I can use?
If you're a member of the FSB then you'll have access to a lot of free templates that have been written by lawyers. Have a look and see whether you can cover some of your needs via that resource https://www.fsb.org.uk
ACAS also provide guidelines and some basic templates that can help, have a look at their website here https://www.acas.org.uk/templates-for-employers
I want some HR Help from Tap HR
We can provide businesses with employee handbooks to make sure they're set up for success. We can also review any existing handbooks to see if they need a brush-up. Get in contact for more details!
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✅Our Packages- we offer packages for business which you can see here; https://www.taphr.co.uk/hr-packages
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All information within this post is provided for guidance only, always seek your own legal advice
The information with this post was correct at the time of publishing, November 2022 but may be subject to change