8 reasons small businesses should have an up-to-date Employee Handbook

Creating a company employee handbook can be a daunting task but having one brings many benefits. Employee handbooks are not legally required but they are a powerful tool to enhance the employer-employee relationship.  They can also help your company defend against wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment claims. Regardless of the size of an organization, a properly drafted and legally reviewed employee handbook can be the keystone to good employment practices.


There are a lot of benefits you can enjoy from an employee handbook but here are some of the major reasons your organization should have one:

  1. Share the organization’s culture, mission and core values with your employees
  2. Establish common understanding and expectations regarding employer standards
  3. Educate employees about what they can expect from management and leadership
  4. Help ensure company policies are clearly and consistently communicated
  5. Showcase employee benefits the company offers
  6. Help meet federal and state compliance obligations by including mandatory notices
  7. Reduce the risk of employee lawsuits and claims
  8. Provide employees information on where to turn for assistance


Employee handbooks can improve employee morale, prevent disagreements and even keep the company out of court. An Employee Handbook can shift the onus for complying with government workplace, safety and other regulations to employees by putting them on notice of these responsibilities. In some states, courts may consider an employee handbook to be a binding contract, even if the employment relationship is at-will. If an employee has a dispute with his/her employer or gets a bad performance review, they may try to use the employee handbook as leverage or to prove some deficiency on the employer’s part.  A clear, well-written, handbook can protect an employer by establishing a structure so when issues arise, neither the employee nor the employer will be surprised by the outcome.


There are also practical business reasons to have an Employee Handbook. Employees can no longer excuse inappropriate conduct harmful to your company by claiming ignorance.  Supervisors also become more effective because disciplinary decisions can be made based on the handbook policies, which establishes a system of fairness and consistency throughout the organization.

Ultimately, you want employees to feel comfortable knowing that if they turn to management for help, that their legitimate concerns will be addressed; whether they want to report workplace violations; get workplace-related assistance; or just get answers to work related questions they may have.  

By establishing a fair and impartial procedure for dealing with employee issues, including a secondary review process, employees are more likely to keep their complaints in-house, and this is a good thing for employers.



Employee Handbook update alert: Marijuana use in workplace

Medical and recreational use of marijuana has been approved to one degree or another in twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia and the list is expected to grow.  Employees’ use of marijuana for medical purposes brings new and challenging issues to the workplace, whereas employers are provided little guidance on how to address employees’ use of marijuana.

While some states prohibit employers from terminating employees for their status as medical marijuana patients, most state statutes provide an exception for employees who use marijuana or are impaired on the job.  It is generally safe to state in your handbook that marijuana used for recreational and medical purposes will be treated like other drugs and substances with regard to their use in the workplace, and that use of marijuana at work and/or being under the influence of it at work is prohibited though those state policies vary widely.  Please refer to the state laws that apply to your business when you add the policy regarding Marijuana usage in workplace.



Creating an Employee Handbook should be a top priority for your business. An Employee Handbook is the foundation upon which the employer builds its workplace culture, as well as its legal defenses. If you don't have one, you should get one immediately. If you already have one, you should ensure that it has been recently updated to comply with the constantly changing laws – both state and federal.

Back Office Remedies can create a customized employee handbook that reflects your company culture and complies with federal, state and local laws and regulations. Call us at 702-727-1219 or email us today for more information.

Written by Weena Powel - Human Resources Manager

Updated on August 14, 2017 10:56