Do I need a Staff Handbook ?
A Staff Handbook sets out the company’s policies, procedures and practices. It is not a legal requirement or compulsory however it is good practice for a Company to have a Staff Handbook and vital to the smooth running of a business from a Human Relations (HR) and employment perspective. The main aim of a Staff Handbook is to provide advice and guidance to employees on the company’s rules. It is a useful document for staff and managers.
It is common for some employers to think that it is not necessary to have a staff handbook if they do not have a large number of employees. However, it is advisable to have a Staff Handbook where a business has more than one employee and intends to take on more employees. In your case you will only have one director for some months however if you intend to take on more employees in the UK Office, we would advise that you seriously consider a Staff Handbook before you employ more employees.
In England, employers are under a duty to have certain policies and procedures in place. There are certain policies that an employer must put in writing and make accessible to it employees. These include the employer’s disciplinary and grievance rules, sickness/absence pay and holiday pay. It is your choice as to whether you prefer to incorporate these written policies into your employee’s contract of employment or within your Staff Handbook.
Benefits of having a Staff Handbook
It sets out in detail the policies that govern a member of staff’s employment eg what you expect from them and what they are entitled to and should expect from you ie their employment rights and benefits.
It sets out your company’s ethos, values and goals for staff thereby assisting them in understanding the company and its culture, values and objectives.
It enables the company to communicate its policies and processes clearly to its employees thereby providing clarity to staff on the company’s policies and practices.
The staff handbook gives a company the opportunity to get the right information out to their employees, which will in turn safeguard the business should there be any potential litigation matters that can arise from time to time.
It helps the company to streamline its policies thereby avoiding the company having to run the risk of inconsistent treatment of its staff and management of staff issues.
It helps to answer employees’ questions on their employer’s procedures and the workplace.
It can be used as a guide for managers – ensuring that managers follow the correct company practices.
It can provide good evidence that employees are aware that certain conduct or misbehaviour by them can result in disciplinary action or dismissal, or point out the implications of certain behaviour. So an employee cannot say that they did not know that certain conduct was against company policy etc.
It can be used to show government authorities or the court that your company complies with employment legislation.
It can help your company as employer to prove that it has acted fairly and treated an employee in accordance with set policies and procedures. In most cases where an employee has taken out a grievance or is challenging a company process or rule or the way staff have been treated, staff handbooks have been proven to be invaluable for employers facing such claims.
Should your employee take you to an Employment Tribunal or seek legal redress in a court, a written handbook is essential in showing that have the right policies in place and that you have treated your employee fairly.
For your business to benefit from these “benefits” it is essential that the Staff Handbook is reasonably accessible to all staff including managers. You may wish to circulate an electronic or manual copy of your Staff Handbook to staff and ensure they are emailed or handed manual copies whenever it is updated, OR keep an electronic copy on your Intranet or Sharepoint folder OR keep a Staff Handbook in an office to which all staff have access. The choice is yours!
How can Pure Business Law help?
Specialist Employment Solicitors
Pure Business Law are specialist Employment Solicitors based in Bedford and London and operating nationally. If you need advice on whether your Company requires a Staff Handbook or if you require us to draft a Staff Handbook, please call us on 01234 938089 or e-mail us at email@example.com and one our team members will be in touch.
Pure Business Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is a licensed member of the Law Society of England & Wales.