Introducing an Employee Handbook, sometimes also known as an employee manual or staff handbook, or updating an existing one, will provide countless benefits to an organisation. Most of those benefits translate back to the main purpose of the Employee Handbook i.e. providing clear communication with employees and assisting in the prevention of employee disputes, prevention of claims to an Employment Tribunal and most of all prevention of financial penalties being imposed upon the company.
When preparing an Employee Handbook, the organisation's immediate requirements should be looked at as well as its expected future needs. The Employee Handbook will normally comprise a set of policies and procedures to clarify what conduct is and is not acceptable within the particular employment. Such policies will also help employers to ensure that they comply with their statutory duties and will make it clear to employees how they are able to exercise their statutory rights.
As an introduction we have listed below policies which should form the basis of your Employee Handbook as a minimum and those policies that are recommended. An up to date Employee Handbook will assist in minimizing the risk of any dispute to Employment Tribunal or civil Courts.
If you would prefer us to create your handbook for you please give us a call on 01455 852028 and ask for the Employment Consultancy Dept to discuss.
Furthermore, the handbook should set out how any breaches of the terms of employment will be dealt with, in particular in relation to disciplinary or grievance related matters.
Employers should therefore make clear which parts of the Employee Handbook are contractually binding, and which are intended to be non contractual as an employer will need to obtain an employee’s consent to vary any contractual elements. It is for this reason that the Written Statement of Main Terms and Conditions of Employment is normally a separate document as it will contain the fundamental contractual elements of the employment relationship.
It is important to note that, even if a provision in a policy is labelled as non-contractual, it is possible for such a provision to be deemed contractual through custom and practice, if it has been followed without exception in a particular manner for a substantial period of time. Therefore, in the absence of the express right to vary non-contractual terms, any provision, policy or procedure can be contractually binding and employers should therefore pay particular attention to this distinction in the drafting of their employee handbook.
If a new handbook is being compiled, employers should consider consulting fully with their employees once a draft document has been prepared. This process results in a formal agreement in most situations where a Trade Union is recognised within the workplace. However, in all cases, employees and managers with responsibility for designated areas within a business should be consulted on the construction and content of the handbook.
Naturally, some legal evaluation of the content of the handbook is essential to ensure compliance with the law. The handbook will need to be updated from time to time to take account of organisational, practical and legal updates and amendments.