Employee Handbook

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.

Best Practices

  • Establish and record a set of well-designed workplace policies and include them in an up to date employee handbook..

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.

Mandatory Policies

Certain policies are mandatory and must be included in your employee 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.

Recommended Policies

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.

Related Resources

Click here to learn more and watch a demo video of CalChamber's Employee Handbook Creator tool. »​

Learn More About HRCalifornia »

Try HRCalifornia for Free »

Sign up for our Free Newsletter »

This is a sample of the type of content on HRCalifornia, California's #1 resource on employment law.

​Top 10 Employee Handbook Mistakes White Paper »