One of the questions we get frequently is, “Should we have an employment manual? Should we have terms of employment that we abide by?” My general recommendation is yes. However, it needs to be a living, breathing document in your organization. It is pointless to have an employment manual that you do not utilize. The employment manual will generally set forth how employment goes and talk about a lot of different issues. Typically, it will give the employer the ability to set the terms of work, how the employees will appear, what activities they will be involved in, how they’ll take vacation time, and how they’ll interact in the workplace.
Additionally, the employment manual typically provides that the employer has rights to do screening, to check on the employees, to access their email, etc. All things are typically necessary for an employer to keep control over the workplace. They are typically very powerful documents and they do give a lot of rights to the employer, but you want to follow the policies and procedures within your own employment manual. A lot of employers can get in trouble by having an employment manual that they don’t follow. By doing this, what happens is the employees come up with fuel to argue that the employer is being unfair or not handling things correctly.
This is definitely what we want to avoid. We want to make sure that employees understand the terms and conditions that are stated and that the employer reserves and captures the rights that they need. We don’t want an employment manual that’s not going to be followed, so the first special question is to determine whether you as an employer want to have an employment manual. Do you want to have these terms and conditions and will you follow them as a business process? If that’s true, then you typically will want the manual and then you’ll want to lay it out.
Your state may have some good guidance for what you want in your employee manual. For instance, the Texas Workforce Commission has a very good model of employment manual, which you can use to start yours. Every employment manual, however, should be tailored to the particular industry and particular needs of the employer. You should not be using a generic employment manual. This is where getting a lawyer involved could be very helpful to you to help you get the employment manual adjusted the way you like. Employment manuals, that could be very good but they need to be used correctly and they need to be followed.
What’s been your experience? Does your business use employee manuals? Are there reasons why you’re not using these? Join us in the comments below and let us know about your experience.
This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Freeimages.com/Photographer Piotr Bizior.
About the Author
Shawn McBride — R. Shawn McBride is the Managing Member of The R. Shawn McBride Law Firm, PLLC. Shawn works successful, private business owners in their growth and missions to make a company that stands the test of time. You can email R. Shawn McBride or call (214) 418-0258.
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