An employee handbook helps new employees learn about the company rules, policies, culture, and values. It will also help protect the company from legal issues.
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Are Companies Required to Have an Employee Handbook?
There is no federal law mandating employee handbooks. But depending on company type, size, and state, there may be information it is required to give employees. A handbook can provide legally any necessary information, along with essential and helpful information for employees.
Employee Handbook Sample:
Below we have created an employee handbook template that you can use in its entirety. You can also cut and paste the sections that are most relevant to your company and create a customized version. The sections in [bold] need to be removed and replaced with your own wording.
Welcome to [company name]! We’re glad to have you here. We’ve been in business since [year] and since that time have developed the philosophy that [company philosophy]. Our overriding goal is [your company’s main goal]. Our mission is [give mission statement].
If you’re reading this, we think you’re a good fit for helping us fulfill our mission and achieve our goals.
1.1 Changes in policy.
This handbook replaces previous employee handbooks, memos, and manuals. We reserve the right to interpret, cancel, change, suspend, or dispute, with or without notice, all or any part of these policies, procedures, and benefits at any point. Employees will be notified of changes.
Changes take effect on dates determined by the Company. After changes take effect previous policies are void. Individual managers and supervisors cannot change policies.
We rely on the accuracy of employment application information and any other data candidates provide during the hiring process.
Falsifications, misrepresentations, or material omissions may result in the exclusion of the candidate from consideration for employment. If the candidate has been hired, termination of employment may be considered.
1.3 Employment relationship.
You enter into this employment voluntarily and are free to resign at any time for any reason or no reason. Likewise, [Company Name] is free to conclude its relationship with any employee at any time for any reason or no reason. Following a probationary period, the Employment Termination Policy in Section 3 is applicable.
2. Definitions of Employee Status:
An “employee” of [Company Name] is a person who regularly works for [Company Name] on a wage or salary basis. “Employees” may include exempt, non-exempt temporary, regular full-time, regular part-time employees, and other employees who are subject to the control and supervision of [Company Name] in the performance of their duties.
2.1 Types of employees.
3. Employment Policies:
Human resources provides an orientation for new employees. This includes an overview of the company history, an explanation of company vision, mission, values, goals, and objectives. Orientation also includes an explanation of tax and legal issues, benefits, and help completing necessary paperwork.
Employees are presented with codes, keys, procedures, and secret handshakes needed to access their workspace. Supervisors introduce new hires to staff, explain company evaluation procedures, review position scope, and job description, and help them start working.
Example Non-Discrimination Policy:
A non-discrimination policy makes it clear that a company or organization does not discriminate for employment or any other aspect of employment, such as raises or promotions. It may also describe penalties for employees who discriminate.
3.2 Non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement.
Protecting trade secrets and confidential business information is essential to the success of [Company Name].
Such confidential information includes (but is not limited to): pending projects and proposals, proprietary production processes, compensation data, personnel/payroll records, financial information, marketing strategies, and conversations with people associated with the company.
As a condition of employment, employees must sign a non-disclosure agreement. Employees improperly disclosing or using confidential business information or trade secrets are subject to disciplinary action, including termination and legal action, even if the disclosure does not benefit them.
[Company Name] does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices because of race, sex, national origin, color, religion, age or disability. We make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities unless doing so would result in undue hardship.
3.4 New employee probationary period.
The probationary period for regular employees is for [90 days] from hire date. This is a time for management to evaluate new employees, and for new employees to evaluate the company.
During the probationary period, the company and the employee can terminate employment without notice. Upon completion of the probationary period, a review will be given and benefits will begin as appropriate.
3.5 Work hours.
[Company Name] is open from [X a.m. To X p.m. Day of Week - Day of Week], except for Holidays (See Section 6.7, Holidays). The standard workweek is  hours (see Section 4.3, Overtime).
For calculating employee benefits, the workweek begins on [Sunday (starting at 12:01 a.m.) Through Saturday (ending at 12:00 a.m.)], unless a supervisor makes other arrangements with the employee.
3.6 Lunch periods.
Employees receive a [55-minute] break for lunch. Lunch breaks generally are taken between the hours of [11:30 a.m. And 2:30 p.m.]
3.7 Break periods.
[Company Name allows breaks during the following times: times here.] If employees have unexpected personal business to take care of, they must [notify their direct supervisor to discuss time away from work and make provisions as necessary.] (Or:) [Company Name does not allow breaks except during the lunch period.]
3.8 Emergency closings.
Emergencies including fires, severe weather, or power failures can disrupt company operations. [Executive Staff] will make the decision to close. Employees will receive an official notification from their supervisors if the company is closed due to an emergency.
3.9 Employee personnel files.
Employee personnel files include: [job application, job description, résumé, records of training, salary history, records of disciplinary action and documents related to employee performance reviews, coaching, and mentoring.]
Personnel files are [Company Name] property. Access to information they contain is restricted. Management personnel of [Company Name] who have a legitimate reason to review the file are allowed to. To review their own file employees should contact their supervisor or Human Resources Representative.
With reasonable notice, employees may review their personnel file in Company’s office and in the presence of their supervisor or Human Resources Representative.
3.10 Personnel data changes.
Employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor or [Company Name's] Human Resources Department of changes such as mailing address, telephone number, name, number of dependents, and emergency contacts. An employee’s personal data should be accurate and current at all times.
3.11 Performance review.
Supervisors give formal performance reviews every [six months]. Informal performance reviews may be conducted more often.
Performance reviews are for employees and supervisors to talk about current tasks and discuss ideas for meeting work goals. Performance is directly tied to wage and salary increases. Performance reviews will have a direct effect on your compensation.
3.12 Outside employment policy.
Employees may hold outside jobs in non-related businesses or professions as long as there is no conflict of interest, performance standards and scheduling demands are met, and [Company Name] resources are not used for outside employment.
What is Outside Employment?
An outside employment policy sets conditions for employees at a company who choose to hold jobs elsewhere in addition to their work with that company. It usually requires that the employee meets all performance standards, and that the outside employment does not present a conflict of interest.
3.13 Disciplinary action.
[Company Name] holds each of its employees to its rules and standards of ethical conduct (see Section 5). [Company Name] expects the employee’s supervisor to take action when employees deviate from them.
Though [Company Name] usually takes a progressive approach to discipline, some actions are grounds for immediate employment termination.
These include but are not limited to:
- Unauthorized access to company property outside of business hours.
- Using company equipment and/or company vehicles without authorization.
- Vandalism or destruction of company property.
- Misrepresentations of [Company Name] to a customer, a prospective customer, the general public, or an employee.
- Sharing company business practices.
3.14 Employment termination.
Terminations are part of personnel activity at any company.
Examples and definitions of common termination types:
- Termination – Employment termination initiated by [Company Name].
- Layoff – Employment termination initiated by [Company Name] for non-disciplinary reasons.
- Resignation – Employment termination initiated by an employee.
Exempt employees shall give at least [four (4) weeks] written notice. Since employment with [Company Name] is based on mutual consent, both the employee and [Company Name] have the right to terminate employment at will, with or without cause during the Introductory/Probationary Period for New Employees (See Section 3.1, Introductory/Probationary Period for New Employees).
When a non-exempt employee intends to terminate his/her employment with [Company Name], he/she shall give [Company Name] at least [two weeks] written notice.
Employees who terminate employment with [Company Name] shall return company property. No final employee’s payment will be made until all items are returned in appropriate condition. Cost of replacing un-returned items is deducted from the employee’s final pay.
Any outstanding financial obligations owed to [Company Name] will also be deducted from the employee’s final pay.
Benefits are affected by employment termination in the following manner:
[Company Name] will pay accrued vested benefits due and payable at termination. Some benefits may be continued at employee expense (See Section 4, Benefits). The employee will be informed of benefits that may be continued and how to do so.
3.15 Work safety.
[Company Name] gives information to employees about health issues and workplace safety through:
- Training sessions.
- Bulletin board posts.
- Other written communications.
Employees must be cautious and obey safety rules. Unsafe conditions should be reported to a supervisor immediately. Disciplinary action, including termination of employment, may result from violating safety standards, creating dangerous situations, or failing to report or remedy such situations.
A supervisor should be notified immediately in case of accident-related injuries, no matter how insignificant. (See Section 3.16, Employee Requiring Medical Attention).
3.16 Health issues.
Strictly for the protection of employee health, employees should inform supervisors or human resources representatives of health-related issues.
A doctor's note stating whether the employee can perform his/her job duties is required when or shortly after notice has been given.
Employees should notify their supervisor and Human Resources Representative if a health issue requires a leave of absence. These are granted on a case-by-case basis.
3.17 If an employee requires medical attention.
If an employee requires medical attention, the employee’s personal physician must be notified immediately. If it is necessary for the employee to be seen by the doctor or go to the hospital, a family member will be called to transport the employee to the appropriate facility.
Due to potential liabilities, [Company Name]’s employees will not be responsible for transporting another employee.
The employee will be responsible for transportation charges when an emergency requires Emergency Medical Services to evaluate the employee on-site.
3.18 Building security.
Employees are not allowed on Company property after hours without proper authorization.
Employees given the responsibility to close the business at the end of the day assume responsibility for locking doors, arming alarm systems, and performing any additional building care, such as turning off lights or setting thermostats.
Employees issued work keys are responsible for them.
3.19 Company supplies and expenditures.
Employees whose regular duties do not include purchasing shall not make purchases behalf of [Company Name] without written approval.
In order to make purchases in the name of the company, you must be authorized by [a manager or supervisor].
3.20 Expense reimbursement.
Reimbursements under [$15] will be included in the employee’s next regular paycheck. Larger amounts will be processed as an invoice. Reimbursement request forms should be turned in to [Payroll Department/Accounts Payable].
Supervisors must give prior approval of expenses.
What an Expense Reimbursement?
Expense reimbursement is a way of paying employees back for spending personal money on business expenses. Expenses related to travel, purchasing supplies, business-related meals, equipment and software are common. Employees typically fill out a reimbursement form before being paid back.
3.21 Visitors in the workplace.
To protect the safety and security of employees, visitors, and facilities only authorized visitors are allowed in the workplace. Restricting unauthorized visitors helps ensure security, guards confidential information, decreases insurance liability, protects employee welfare, and limits distractions.
Employees must park their cars in parking lots or other areas indicated and provided by the Company.
3.23 Immigration law compliance.
New employees must complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 and present documentation verifying employment eligibility and identity.
[Company Name] employs United States citizens and non-U.S. citizens authorized to work in the United States in compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Rehired employees who have not completed an I-9 with [Company Name] in the past three years or whose previous I-9 is no longer retained or valid must complete another.
4. Wage and Salary Policies:
4.1 Wage or salary increases.
[Employee wages are reviewed yearly. The employee’s review date is typically on or about the anniversary date of employment or the date of the previous compensation review, although reviews may be conducted more often, depending on the circumstances.]
(The following is for employees using a time clock.) Non-exempt employees are responsible for recording their time worked correctly. Time worked is time actually spent performing assigned duties. [Employees are responsible for recording time spent on individual jobs.]
[Company Name] does not pay for time spent on personal business or extended breaks. The time clock is a legal instrument. Altering, falsifying, tampering with time records, or recording time on another employee’s time record will result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Time records are reviewed weekly. Time record changes must be approved [by a supervisor/manager] **. **[The appropriate person] can handle questions about timekeeping.
Overtime compensation is paid to non-exempt employees in accordance with federal and state wage and hour restrictions.
Overtime is payable for all hours worked over  per week at a rate of one and one-half times the nonexempt employee's regular hourly rate. Time off on personal time, holidays, or any leave of absence will not be considered hours worked when calculating overtime. In addition, vacation time does not constitute hours worked.
All overtime work performed by an hourly employee must receive authorization. Overtime worked without authorization from the [supervisor] may result in disciplinary action.
All employees are paid [weekly, monthly, etc.]. In the event that a regularly scheduled payday falls on a weekend or holiday, employees will receive pay [on the next day of operation].
[Company Name] provides an automated direct deposit service for employees, which automatically deposits a pay stub in an employee’s bank or credit union account(s). To use this service, complete a direct deposit authorization form, which is available from [a supervisor, the payroll department].
Standards of ethics and conduct for [Company Name] are important, and the Company takes them seriously.
Employees are expected to follow codes and standards in conducting the Company’s business and doing their jobs.
Deviating from company rules and standards can lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment (see Section 3.12, Corrective Action).
6. Benefits and Services:
[Company Name] offers a benefits program for its [regular full-time] and [regular part-time] employees. However, the existence of these programs does not signify that an employee will necessarily be employed for the required time necessary to qualify for the benefits included in and administered through these programs.
[Company Name] offers the following health and life insurance programs for regular full-time employees (as determined by the carrier of the policies).
Health insurance. (Include the following as appropriate) [when coverage begins] [percentage of premium your company pays] ** **[percentage of premium employee pays] [how employee pays premium, i.e., payroll deduction].
Life insurance. (Briefly describe your company’s life insurance policy here.) This handbook does not contain the complete terms and/or conditions of any of the Company’s current insurance benefit plans. It is intended only to provide general explanations.
[If there is ever any conflict between the handbook and any documents issued by one of the Company’s insurance carriers, the carrier’s guideline regulations will be regarded as authoritative.]
6.2 COBRA benefits.
The Federal Consolidated Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees and qualified beneficiaries to continue health insurance coverage under [Company Name]’s health plan when a “qualifying event” would normally result in loss of eligibility.
Common qualifying events include:
- Termination of employment.
- Death of an employee.
- Reduction in an employee’s hours.
- Leave of absence.
- Divorce or legal separation.
- A dependent child no longer meeting eligibility requirements.
Under COBRA, the employee or beneficiary pays the full cost of coverage at [Company Name]’s group rates plus an administrative fee. [Company Name] provides each eligible employee with a notice describing rights under COBRA when the employee becomes eligible for coverage under [Company Name]’s health insurance plan.
What is COBRA Insurance?
COBRA is a federal law creating an insurance program that gives some employees the ability to receive health insurance coverage after employment ends. Typically employers with 20 or more employees must offer COBRA insurance. Employees usually pay the entire premium to continue receiving insurance.
6.3 Simple IRA.
The Simple Investment Retirement Account (Simple IRA) plan offers [Company Name's] employees an opportunity for saving, financial growth, and favorable tax treatment. The IRA plan helps contributors save by reducing gross taxable income.
6.4 Social security and Medicare.
[Company Name] withholds income tax from employee earnings and participates in FICA (Social Security) and Medicare withholding and matching programs as the law requires.
[Insert any matching contribution information here.]
For any year, a Contributing Participant’s Elective Deferrals shall not exceed $6,000 (indexed for cost-of-living increases according to law). Please see the [appropriate person] for the current percentage. Eligibility occurs after [12 months] of continuous employment for [regular full-time] and [regular part-time] employees.
What is a Simple IRA?
A Simple IRA is a retirement plan established by employers and self-employed individuals (with sole proprietorships and partnerships). It allows employees to defer taxation on their compensation by contributing part of it to an investment plan. Taxes are deferred until the money is distributed.
[Paid vacation is available to regular part-time employees and regular full-time following their first year anniversary with Company Name]
Paid vacation hours are based on the following: - Vacation time accrues at the rate of [X] hours per hour worked during the first [X] years of employment. - Earned vacation can be used after [X months/1 year] of continuous employment.
Unused earned vacation is paid added to the employee’s final paycheck upon termination. One week paid vacation may be carried over from one calendar year to the next.
For vacations longer than 1 week, requests should be received in writing at least  days before the proposed vacation period.
6.6 Record keeping.
The [Human Resources Department] maintains vacation day records.
[Company Name] observes the following [non-]paid holidays per year for all [non-exempt] employees: [New Year’s Day] [Memorial Day] [Independence Day] [Labor Day] [Thanksgiving Day] [Day after Thanksgiving Day] [Christmas Day].
6.8 Jury duty and military leave.
Employees will be granted unpaid time off for jury or military leave. Regular employees will be kept on active payroll until civic duties are finished. A copy of the jury duty summons and associated paperwork are required.
7. Employee Communications:
7.1 Procedure for handling complaints.
Under normal working conditions, employees who have a job-related problem, question or complaint should go to their immediate supervisor first to get the fastest and best solution. If the employee and supervisor do not solve the problem, [Company Name] encourages employees to contact the [Human Resources Representative.]
7.2 Bulletin boards.
Employees are responsible for reading important announcements and information posted on the bulletin boards in [locations].
7.3 Suggestion box.
[Company Name] encourages employees with suggestions that they do not want to give verbally or in person to write them down and leave them in the suggestion box [located in X]. If this is done anonymously, care will be taken to protect employee privacy. [A member of upper management] checks the box on a regular basis.
7.4 Staff meetings.
Staff meetings will be held [insert schedule]. These meetings allow employees to be informed about company activities and important news. It's also a chance to recognize employee performance.
What Is the Purpose of Having an Employee Handbook?
The purpose of an employee handbook is to set company tone, explain basic information about the company and workplace to help new employees, describe the company mission, goals, and principles. It should also describe compensation and benefits, company rules, and policies.