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Why small businesses need employee handbooks

Many small business owners in New Jersey have to make do with less. They need to make hard choices about where they spend their limited time and money. One important decision that small business owners must make is whether they need an employee handbook.

An employee handbook gives workers a clear idea of what a business expects from them in the workplace. The policies outlined in a handbook can protect workers from a hostile environment and prevent expensive lawsuits against a business. This post will review why small businesses need handbooks and the necessary information that every handbook should include.

The benefits of a well-written employee handbook

Employee handbooks can cover many aspects of the relationship between an employer and its workers. The contents of these manuals can range from how to file a complaint with human resources (HR) to how a business complies with federal regulations. In addition to outlining the rules of workplace conduct, a handbook can also explain how employees are paid and other benefits.

While employers are best served by an employee handbook tailored to their unique needs, every manual should have information on policies related to:

  • Sexual harassment: A 2016 study showed that approximately one in four women experienced workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, gender or title. A handbook that clearly defines sexual harassment can prevent abuse and apply the rules equally to every employee.
  • Disciplinary actions and termination: An employee handbook should have a list of prohibited workplace activities. The handbook should also give employees an idea of the consequences of not meeting the expectations of their role. By giving workers a clear explanation of workplace conduct, employers can prevent wrongful termination claims.
  • Discrimination: State and federal law prohibit discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation, age and other protected classes. A handbook can tell employees the repercussions of workplace discrimination.
  • Leave and time off: Employers can outline their time off and leave policies in an employee handbook. These notices can prevent abuse and inform employees of their rights granted by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

A well-written employee handbook can prevent lawsuits and increase employee retention. Business should make it a priority to have a comprehensive employee handbook. Business owners and HR professionals should talk to a knowledgeable attorney to get information about their industry and state regulations before creating their employee handbook.

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