Human Resources News & Insights

Answers to tricky HR questions: Employee handbooks and the law

Our team of experts fields real-life, everyday questions from HR managers and gives practical answers that can be applied by any HR pro in the same situation. Today’s issue: Are we required to have an official employee handbook?

The question

Is there a law that says we need to have an employee handbook?

The answer

No, there’s no legal requirement that you have to have a handbook, says Robert Hatta on the Jumpstart blog.

Attorneys and most HR pros suggest you have a handbook to spell out procedures and policies, which can reduce the risk of being sued.

But if you need to spell out detailed rules on how workers should behave, you don’t need a handbook – you need new staff.

In fact, firms get into more trouble when they have a handbook, but fail to follow its rules or apply them consistently.

If you hire people who use good judgment and hold them accountable, you may not need a handbook, or only need one that’s a few pages long.

Bottom line: If you choose to have a handbook, make sure it supports these values and that you follow policies consistently.

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