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Five Things to Include in Your Employee Handbook

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If you have employees, an employee handbook is a great way to show that your business complies with a wide range of laws, regulations, and requirements. Here are five things to make sure to include in yours.

  • A zero tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and similar factors is illegal. If someone alleges that he or she was discriminated against because of membership in a protected class, you can't harass or retaliate against that person. Put this in big bold print in the employee handbook. If a claim of discrimination is filed, the EEOC or comparable state agency is going to review your policies and you want to show that the company is committed to a discrimination-free workplace. Not including this in your employee handbook is a big red flag.

  • A procedure for filing accident, injury, and occupational disease reports. Most states require you to maintain worker's compensation coverage if you have even one employee (excluding founders and some corporate officers). The employee starts the claim process by submitting a notice of injury to the employer. Explain the process in the handbook in clear and concise terms. It helps avoid confusion when claims are filed.

  • A zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence and weapons on the premises. Your employees can own all the guns, knives, and weapons they want. But there is no need to bring any of them to work. Unless your business is a gun store or shooting range, make it clear that your company will not tolerate weapons on the premises. Terminate anyone who shows up with one. The last thing anyone needs is another workplace shooting catastrophe.

  • A zero-tolerance policy for drugs on work premises or working under the influence of drugs. Your employees can smoke all the pot they want on their own time. But don't bring it to work and don't show up to work under the influence. Some states offer financial incentives to businesses that maintain drug-free workplaces. Put it in your policy.

  • A procedure for investigating handbook violations. It doesn't have to be fancy as long as you apply the rules consistently to all workers. Employees should know how the discipline process works and the penalties for violations.

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