What Information Should You Include in Your Employee Handbook?

When your business has grown to the point of hiring multiple employees or if you are planning to take on investors or are in the midst of succession planning or putting it up for sale, you may need written policies and procedures for your workers and others to acknowledge and follow. You may wonder what information should be included in your company’s employee handbook, and if so, we’re here to help.

Details To Include in the Employment Manual for Your NC Business

The following information is critically important:

Policies and Procedures Your Employees Must Follow

This section of your employee handbook will likely be the longest as it will contain information most relevant to your workers. It’s a great place to include details about:

  • How you expect them to record hours worked
  • How you pay them (e.g., weekly, biweekly, or monthly), handle overtime, and remit that payment
  • Whether and when they may qualify for benefits
  • How to request time off
  • Whether you want them to clock in and out for breaks and how breaks are taken
  • Details about performance evaluations, including how often they occur and what happens if they don’t meet standards
  • If they have a responsibility to keep any company information confidential
  • If there’s a certain dress code
  • Your policy on hiring relatives of employees
  • If you have a social media policy
  • Your company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policies (and how to report violations of them)
  • The protocol they should follow if resigning

Having different sections dedicated to each of your company’s different departments is a good idea if policies or procedures vary between them.

Relevant Laws and Regulations

There are local, state, and federal regulations and laws that may be applicable to your specific industry or to the employer/employee relationship in general. In some cases, it’s mandatory to include them in any manual you create. Even if not mandatory, including them demonstrates that you are aware of and plan to honor the laws and that you’re making an effort to ensure your employees understand their rights by including them in your employee manual. 

If applicable due to the number of persons employed, it is mandatory to include certain federal laws in your employee handbook.  Examples include:

Your company’s handbook must also include certain federal policies, including ones regarding: 

  • Anti-discrimination and equal employment
  • Reasonable Accommodations, including for lactation and religion
  • Sexual harassment
  • Leave for military service or jury duty

North Carolina-specific policies and regulations you must include in your employee handbook center around:

  • Leave for domestic violence, disaster response, school participation, parental compliance with juvenile court orders), and jury duty
  • Pay transparency
  • Rest breaks and mealtimes (specifically for minors)
  • Compliance with immigration laws

While these topics are mandatory for most employers, their applicability may not be required for employers with fewer than 25 employees or other thresholds.

Additional Provisions To Consider for Your Employee Handbook

Details About Your Company

This section is important to help employees understand how you came to be and where you’re headed. As such, you may want to include the following details about your company in this section of your handbook:

  • Its origin story
  • A mission and vision statement
  • Information about your corporate structure (so workers can better understand the chain of command)
  • Your company culture, such as its values

An Effective Date and Disclaimer

Over the years, new ideations of your employee handbook can quickly pile up for long-term employees. Manuals new workers have access to may be quite dated. Thus, any handbook you have created should mention when this employment manual went into effect. Additionally, you may want to spell out how this current handbook supersedes any previous version of it and any other information disseminated. You may also want to emphasize that the manual shouldn’t be perceived as an employment contract and is subject to change. 

You should have your employees sign off acknowledging receipt of the handbook and that they’ve read its contents.

Ensuring You Have an Updated Employee Handbook

When you start a business, there’s unfortunately not one comprehensive go-to checklist for making sure you’ve taken care of everything you’re legally obligated to. Also, unless you run a large company, the chances that you have someone who keeps track of mandatory additions your manual must have or an employee to make regular updates to it is unlikely. 

Making sure you meet all regulatory requirements when drafting your employee handbook and that the contents are as up-to-date as possible is imperative. You run the risk of exposing your company to unnecessary litigation if you fail to keep up with changes in the law.

While the list of information that we’ve listed above that you should include in your employee manual is a good starting point for building your manual, it’s unlikely that it covers everything that’s required of you or important. Contact us, Anderson Jones, PLLC, to speak with a member of our legal team who not only serves NC businesses as general counsel but also has attorneys who specialize in employment law