Writing an Effective Employment Handbook: Best Practices for North Carolina Employers

An employee handbook is more than just a collection of policies; it is a statement of your company’s identity and commitment to employees.  Handbooks are also the first line of defense in mitigating workplace disputes. Crafting a clear, comprehensive handbook that complies with state and federal laws should be a priority for all North Carolina employers.  Initial drafting and periodic review by a legal professional will help you in this regard.

Whether you’re starting from scratch, or just need an overhaul of your existing handbook, here are some best practices and the essential sections to include.

Best Practices for Drafting Your Employment Handbook

  • Identify Core Values: Set the tone and state the purpose of the employment relationship.
  • Be Clear and Concise: Use straightforward language and avoid legal jargon.
  • Stay Updated: Review and update your handbook annually for new or changing requirements.
  • Consider Employee Input: Managers, HR, and employee representatives can add insight.
  • Seek Legal Counsel: Confirm legal compliance with attorney review by Anderson Jones.

Essential Handbook Sections


Welcome your employees and tell them about your company’s mission and their role in helping achieve it. State the purpose of the handbook, explaining its importance and how employees can benefit by its use.

General Employment Information

Affirm your commitment to fair employment practices, emphasizing the importance of Equal Employment Opportunity. It’s also vital to mention the “Employment-At-Will” doctrine, making clear that either party can conclude the employment relationship at any point and that policies or practices in the handbook do not constitute an employment contract.

Workplace Policies

Address everyday working standards, including expectations regarding attendance and punctuality. Outline your dress code, behavioral policies, and take a firm stand on harassment and discrimination. Ensure that you communicate clear methods for reporting and addressing employee concerns with alternate means of reporting gives an option to bypass direct supervisors.

Compensation and Benefits

Give details about how employees are compensated and the frequency of their pay. Describe benefits your company provides, like health plans or 401(k) opportunities, helping employees understand their perks.

Safety and Security

Demonstrate your commitment to employee safety by discussing precautions, procedures, and guidelines that ensure a safe working environment. Emphasize data security and protocols that safeguard company and employee data.

Leaves and Absences

Provide clarity on policies affecting leave from This includes accrual of vacation/sick/personal days and how they can be used. Address legal leaves, such as those under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to ensure employees understand their rights and obligations.

Performance and Termination

Describe the process and frequency of performance reviews, helping employees know what to expect. Reiterate that “at-will” employment does not require just cause but that employee misconduct can serve as the basis for separation from employment.

Dispute Resolution

Offer a clear path for employees to report and resolve issues, detailing any grievance procedures. If your company employs an arbitration agreement, it’s also essential to outline this process.

Finally, include an acknowledgment that the employee has received and been given the opportunity to read the handbook. This dedicated page should be signed and dated by employees.

The Attorneys at Anderson Jones Can Help

Your employment handbook is a roadmap for employees to follow.  It should help ensure their success and that of your company by minimizing employee disputes.  Internet sources and service providers who are not licensed to practice law offer no assurance of legal compliance.  Do not assume your handbook protects your company, make sure of it by contacting Anderson Jones.

Ready to draft or revise a comprehensive handbook? Do so with confidence.  Let us confirm your handbook aligns with federal and North Carolina or Georgia laws and best practices. Our experienced team will help guide you through this essential process.

Reach out to Anderson Jones today for expert advice and complete peace of mind for your business.