This is a sample of the type of content on HRCalifornia, California’s #1 resource on employment law.
Learn how your company can avoid these employee handbook mistakes.
No matter how large or small your organization might be, you can derive significant benefit from having a well-crafted employee handbook that spells out your policies. The handbook should include both mandatory policies and any recommended policies applicable to your workforce.
- Establish and record a set of well-designed workplace policies.
Reasons for Creating an Employee Handbook
You may not realize the need for formal and comprehensive policies and procedures until you encounter an unanticipated problem. Do not wait until you find yourself in a lawsuit! Properly conceived, written and communicated policies can help you:
- Comply with complex federal and state regulations
- Ensure fair and consistent treatment of employees
- Avoid misunderstandings that could potentially lead to lawsuits
- Orient new employees
- Educate supervisors and managers
- Establish legal protections
Many small- and medium-size companies find effective workforce management challenging. If your company does not have an experienced personnel administrator, you can especially benefit from written policies.
How to Create an Effective Employee Handbook
To prepare an effective employee handbook, you need to understand your current policies (both written and oral), past practices and anticipated future needs. Remember that your handbook is a legal document and must be updated to meet the ever-changing needs of your company and the laws that govern employment practices.
Employer Right to Change Handbook
California employers have the right to unilaterally change or terminate policies contained in their employee handbooks without having to be concerned about violating an implied contract of employment if they follow certain guidelines.
Certain policies are mandatory and must be included in your handbook. Including these policies clarifies for employees their rights and obligations, and protect you from potential liability.
Additional Information You Must Provide to Employees
In addition to the mandatory policies, there is certain information that must be communicated to employees. The information may be required in your employee handbook and/or the posters you hang in communal areas. Other information must be given to employees at the time of hire or at certain points during the employment relationship.
Some of your organization's policies or benefits may not be required by law, but if you offer them, they may bring legal requirements with them. To protect yourself from misunderstandings and lawsuits, you should communicate certain requirements to your employees.
Staying Out of Trouble
Although an employee handbook is a powerful tool for avoiding litigation by clarifying and publishing your policies, it can actually lead to potential lawsuits if not done correctly. Be careful that your handbook does not violate any federal or state laws or override the at-will employment relationship.
HRCalifornia members have access to several tools and services that help those who manage human resources to work through Employee Handbook issues, including:
Employee Handbook Software
CalChamber's Store offers Employee Handbook Software, which is the easiest way to create an employee handbook. A wizard-based interface guides you through questions that let you select policies applicable to your company. The software completely automates the process of compiling and formatting the handbook, even customizing it to reflect your company's identity. The program will produce a handbook that is:
- Compliant with California and federal employment laws
- Customized for your company's size and benefits
The Spanish software will assist you in creating an employee handbook in Spanish from scratch (instructions and navigation menus are in English). Purchase them together as a bundle and save even more!
Employee Handbook Software Questions and Answers
1. Am I required to have an employee handbook?
California does not require employers to have a handbook. However, if you create one, there are policies that must be included.
2. Will I see the policies in English and Spanish languages side-by-side?
No, but we recognize that many of our customers don't speak Spanish. Rather than provide a side-by-side view, we provide an explanation of the policy in English.
3. Why doesn't it have both languages within the same program?
In order to keep costs lower for our customers, rather than combining them in the same program, we offer English and Spanish programs separately. We let you choose which program you need. As an added bonus, if you buy them both as a bundle, you get them at a discounted price.
4. How can I tell what the policies say in Spanish?
If you need to see both the English and Spanish languages side-by-side, we recommend you purchase both versions of the software.
5. Why would I need a Spanish version of the handbook?
California has a large Spanish-speaking workforce, so communicating your policies to your employees is important and provides piece of mind. An employee handbook gives you the best opportunity to protect yourself from unlawful termination suits and clearly communicate your company policies.
6. If I have an existing policy or want to add information to a policy in the software, will it translate it into Spanish?
No. However, if you are a member of CalChamber, one of the benefits of membership is you are eligible for a free initial consultation and a 15 percent discount from SpanishOne Translations made available through our partner service.
7. What if I need more than one handbook?
Within your company you can make as many handbooks as you need. However, if you are creating handbooks for multiple companies, you will need to purchase our Enterprise version (please refer to the "Quantity Discounts" tab for more information).
8. Can I post it to our intranet?
9. Can I personalize it with our company logo?
10. Do you have technical support available if I need assistance?
11. What if I need to create an employee handbook immediately?
We can help you download it immediately from the store site when you use an authorized credit card. The CD will be shipped to you as a backup.
Employee Handbook Shortcut
Use this Employee Handbook Shortcut to access all the different tools and services HRCalifornia and the Store have to offer, including:
- Law Library Information
- Forms & Checklists
- Employee Handbook Software
- How To's
Employee Handbook Forms & Checklists
- Confirmation of Receipt of Policy - Use this form to document and verify that an employee has received, read and is familiar with the policies and procedures contained in the employee handbook.
- Policies - Mandatory and Recommended - Review this checklist to ensure that you have included all the necessary policies in your employee handbook.
How To: Create an Employee Handbook
To prepare an effective employee handbook, you need to understand your current policies (both written and oral), past practices, and anticipated future needs. Remember that your handbook is a legal document and must be updated to meet the ever-changing needs of your company and the laws that govern employment practices. This How To gives you step-by-step instructions on creating your employee handbook.