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Why Employee Handbooks are Important

Employee handbooks should be a staple to any business, whether the business is an international corporate conglomerate or a small business with only a few employees. While a small business may see no need for an employee handbook, many reasons to have such a handbook exist, particularly if a small business owner intends to expand his business in the future. Our Des Plaines and Hoffman Estates attorneys know the importance of employee handbooks and of making sure they are properly drafted.

Employee Handbooks Set Forth Expectations

Employee handbooks set forth expectations between the employer and the employee. A handbook is a tool to provide clear boundaries for the employee and to let the employee know what his rules and benefits are. Employers can clearly communicate to employees how the employees should behave, what they should wear and how they will compensate, discipline and reward employees. Employees will understand their responsibilities and have a reference point for how to do their jobs and maintain their status.

Employee Handbooks Protect Employers

Clear policies and procedures can prevent liability; in Illinois and in many other states, courts may consider an employee handbook to be a binding contract, even if the employment relationship is at-will. If an employee has a dispute with his employer or gets a bad performance review, he may try to use the employee handbook as leverage or to prove some deficiency on the employer’s part. A well-written and clear handbook can protect an employer; it sets forth a structure so when issues arise, neither the employee nor the employer will be surprised by the outcome.

How to Draft a Handbook

Employee handbooks should have enough detail to articulate the parties’ responsibilities, but it should not have so much information that it overwhelms the reader. The size of the organization and the organization’s area of business will dictate some of the handbook’s content, but generally they should contain information about pay, benefits, dress code, human resources issues, leave, workers’ compensation, performance reviews, retirement, drug and alcohol policies, safety and discipline. They should avoid certain types of promises and should follow federal, state and local guidelines. Businesses should obtain legal counsel to assist them with their employee handbooks. If you want to revise your employee handbook or draft one from scratch, a Des Plaines and Hoffman Estates lawyer can help you.

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