What to Include in an Employee Handbook

Posted on May 11, 2020 by Rick Rossignol

picture of glasses and handbook

Employee handbooks can be essential in providing both new and current employees with beneficial insight into the mission and values of your company as well as the policies and procedures related to how your specific business functions. When an employee handbook is thoughtfully laid out, it can serve as a valuable tool for ensuring that important business policies are enforced. An employee handbook should generally consist of the following topics:

An Employee Receipt of Acceptance


This section should specifically state that the employee acknowledges the receipt of their copy of the company handbook, and that they understand the requirement to read and know all of its contents. This statement is then usually followed by lines for a signature, printed name, and date for the employee to fill out.


Confidentiality Policy and Pledge


This section will commonly state that the information learned about the company via the handbook and onsite working with the company is considered confidential. It should be followed by an explanation that the disclosure of confidential information is prohibited, and disciplinary actions will be taken if that were to take place. Lastly, there should be a statement saying that the employee understands the confidentiality policy and pledge, along with a place for a their signature, printed name, the date for them to fill in.


Table of Contents Sections


A table of contents is helpful to include to make it easier to navigate the handbook when someone needs to reference specific company information later on. Obviously, the contents of an employee handbook can vary from business to business, however generally there are topics that almost every company has within theirs. Here are some common sections of employee handbooks starting chronologically:




A company mission section gives a clear statement of what the business stands for and what it’s goals are in the present and future. The mission statement should be clearly defined and will ultimately be the guiding principle for how you intend to run your business, so it’s worth putting some extra thought and care into how you choose to define this.


Voluntary At-Will Employment


Employers are required to create a statement for new employees which maintains that they are employed under voluntary at-will employment. Generally, this statement means that an employee may be terminated from employment at any time, with or without cause. It also is stating that an employee is not being forced to work for your business and has the option to leave at any time if desired.


Equal Opportunity Employment


An equal opportunity statement is necessary to acknowledge that as an employer, you will not discriminate against and employee in a manner that violates the law. It should also state that your business is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, political affiliation, personal appearance, family responsibilities, matriculation or any other characteristic protected under federal, state, or local law. A statement of intolerance to any form of unlawful discrimination should then be made, followed by a statement maintaining that if a violation of this policy occurs, disciplinary action will be taken.


Policy Against Workplace Harassment


This section is used to explain your businesses policy against harassment such as sexual harassment or any kind of discriminatory harassment. Workplace harassment policies are generally in-depth and may require working directly with an HR representative to determine what your business should specifically outline in this important portion of your handbook.


Personal Solicitation


This section should state that employees are not allowed to solicit business personally or electronically for any unauthorized source.


Hours of Work, Attendance and Punctuality


These aspects will clearly define your business hours of operation and the working hours for your employees, as well as what your expectations are as far as attendance and punctuality.


Employment Policies and Practices


Each of your company policies and practices should be outlined in this section, including explanations for full-time, part-time, exempt, non-exempt, and temporary employees.


Position Description and Salary Administration


Most positions within your business should have a thorough description including expectations of the job. An explanation for how paychecks are distributed (i.e. bi-weekly, on this day, etc.) should also be stated in this portion of your employee handbook.


Work Review


A work review section explains the process by which your business reviews employees for work performance, and includes how frequently your employees are reviewed and by whom.


Benefits and Insurance


If your business provides benefits or insurance for its employees, you’ll want to thoroughly explain each in this portion. That includes health/life insurance, social security/Medicare/Medicaid, workers compensation and unemployment insurance, retirement plans, and tax deferred annuity plans.


Leave Benefits and Other Work Policies


This portion is used to explain meeting and conference policies for all applicable employees as well as any of the following types of workplace leave:


  • holiday leave
  • vacation time
  • sick leave
  • personal leave
  • military leave
  • civic responsibility
  • parental leave
  • bereavement leave
  • extended personal leave
  • severe weather condition leave



Reimbursement of Expenses


Policies for reimbursement of expenses for specific expenditures acquired through work should be explained in this section.




Should an employee wish to separate from your business, you’ll want to explain the protocol in this section which generally asks for a certain amount of days of written notice for an intended separation. You’ll want to explain the process should your business wish to separate from an employee as well.


Return of Property


A statement of your expectations for any property borrowed through your business by an employee who has separated will be located here.


Review of Personnel Action


A review of personnel action portion of your employee handbook states that employees may request a review of personnel action or an unsatisfactory performance review. A thorough explanation of this process should be provided here.


Personnel Records


This section covers how your company handles employee records.


Outside Employment


An explanation for your business’s policy for holding outside jobs goes in this section.


Non-Disclosure of Confidential Information


This section restates policies put in place for the non-disclosure, by all employees, of confidential information.


Computer and Information Security


The rules regarding the use of company computers and information technology is explained in this part of your employee handbook.




You might state in this section that the contents of your employee handbook are expected to be upheld at all times and that the handbook has been accepted by any authoritarian departments of the company if necessary.


Employee handbooks are necessary for all businesses. To keep your companies’ mission in mind, creating and implementing an employee handbook can help to ensure that new hires and current employees feel supported and structured in the workplace.


Your business handbook may not need certain sections described or may need additional sections depending on your area of expertise. For additional service and assistance with determining what your employee handbook should consist of, get in contact with us today. RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient human resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small, start-ups, and medium-sized businesses.


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