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Do I need an employee handbook?

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;

  • Disciplinary policy

  • Grievance policy

  • Sickness absence policy

  • Equal opportunities policy

  • Health and Safety policy

  • Bullying and harassment policy

  • Privacy 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

ACAS also provide guidelines and some basic templates that can help, have a look at their website here

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!

Free consultations- if you'd like a free consultation with one of our consultants you can sign up here;

Our Services- you can see all our services here, but we also provide bespoke custom-built offerings for our customers;

Our Packages- we offer packages for business which you can see here;

Our Pricing- We're transparent with our charges because, well as a customer we think it's important you have an understanding of costs, you can see our charge rates here;

How do I get in contact?

Feel free to email us at or book a free consultation here;

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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

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