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What Should an Employee Handbook Include?

Posted by Celene Robert

January 8, 2021

Every company should create an employee handbook once they have staff members on board. A handbook can guide employees on topics like ethical considerations, company rules, holidays and more. Since every business has different needs, individual policies may differ from company to company. However, there are some general policies and information that every employee handbook should include.

Because of the changes that 2020 brought, there’s no better time than now for companies to review and revise their employee handbooks. If you’re creating your first employee handbook or updating your existing one, make sure you comply with the latest employment rules and regulations. Check out the eight must-have sections that every company should include in their employee handbooks.


Make your employee handbook concise and organized, and use subheads to break up information. Be comprehensive, but try to keep the book to 50 pages at most. Create an outline for your employee handbook before you start writing it, and make it easy to navigate. The purpose of this section is to introduce the document, the company and the CEO. Explain how to use the handbook and provide employees with relevant information that they may need now and in the future.

Company History and Values

The handbook should state the company’s core values and give employees a clear view of what they should do and why they should do it. Begin your handbook with your business story (how and why you got started), then share the following information:

  • Company history
  • Vision and mission statements
  • Company Profile
  • Core values
  • Office information and contact details

Office Conduct

An effective social media policy provides clear guidelines on how employees should and should not communicate on social channels about the company. You can include the following other details in this section:

  • Company dress code
  • Equal opportunities policy
  • Workplace violence policy
  • Equipment allocation like cellphones and computers.
  • Policies on break time and facility
Write necessary measures and your strategy to prevent offenses like corruption and data theft. Also, make sure you include the recent general data protection regulation (GDPR) changes in your handbook where relevant.

Company Policies

The employee handbook should inform employees about any work performance expectations and where to direct their complaints or concerns. Practice what you preach, and record the purpose of each policy. Review your company policies periodically, and make necessary revisions to the current ones. Provide employees with details about each policy in this section, including:

  • Health and safety policies
  • Dismissal and disciplinary procedure
  • Drug and alcohol policy
  • Grievance procedure
  • Data protection policy

Employee Benefits

The employee handbook should include a general overview of the types of benefits available to staff members. Discuss procedures and leave policies for requesting vacation time or other paid time off. Keep your leave policy updated according to the latest Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal and state laws. Ensure that your employees are aware of the different leave benefits and other benefits provided by you, such as:

  • Health insurance
  • Company perks like bonuses or incentive eligibility
  • Holiday schedules
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave
  • Staff sickness and absence policy
  • Time off to vote
Make every bonus program simple and easy to understand. Research your state-specific laws and make sure you keep up with the legal changes.

Remote Work Policies, Procedures and Expectations

Update your company's employee handbook to reflect remote-work expectations and compliance policies and set expectations for responding to communication channels throughout the working day. If your team works overtime, consider offering time off apart from their vacation or medical leave. You can include the below details in this section:

  • Flexible working procedure
  • Remote working options
  • Time off policy

Answer Your Team’s Questions

Answering the questions of your existing employees in your handbook will keep your staff members on the same page. Your handbook sets the tone for how you communicate with your employees, so write it in an easy-to-understand language. Although you’ve got to include some legal terms and policies in your book, try to explain them in simple words.

Your employee handbook should reflect the latest workplace trends and employment laws. To achieve this, review your handbook periodically, ask legal counsel to review it, publish it, and update it whenever required.

COVID-19-Related Procedures and Protocols

Cover everything from wearing masks to social distancing expectations in your employee handbook. Even though this may only apply to the current pandemic situation, it is vital information since COVID-19 could last well into 2021. Therefore, you should develop and incorporate a reopening safety plan into your employee handbook.

There were some laws established in 2020 to protect employees and employers from the coronavirus outbreak, such as expanded emergency family and medical leave for COVID quarantine, diagnosis and treatment. Add these new federal and state laws to your employee handbook to keep it up to date.


Celene Robert
Celene Robert

Celene heads up the marketing at Escalon. Passionate about helping companies grow their business, she spends her days finding new ways to bring essential business services to startups, SMBs, and growth-minded companies. Based in the PNW, she’s the proud owner of 8 pairs of Birkenstocks and a sassy, cuddly cat.

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