SmallBusiness.com’s Guide to Creating an Employee Manual


As your company grows, it becomes increasingly important to have an employee manual.

  • It establishes clear and consistent communication between you and your employees concerning company policies.
  • It sets forth your expectations for employees.
  • It describes what employees can expect from your company.
  • It describes your legal obligations as an employer.
  • It describes employees’ rights.
  • It helps you comply with federal and state laws regarding your obligations and employee rights.

Employee manual outline

Each business is unique. Your policies related to employees will also be unique. Some companies have very flexible policies, while others may have very strict rules and policies. No matter how lax or strict your policies may be, here is an outline of topics to cover in your employee manual.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Conflict of Interest Statements

Legally mandated policies, requirements & procedures related to:

  • Equal employment opportunities
  • Discrimination and harassment prohibitions
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Information about required withholdings of state and federal taxes
  • Voluntary deductions related to company’s benefits programs
  • (Companies with 50+ employees) Healthcare insurance guidelines and overview (provided by carrier)
  • (Companies with less than 50 employees) If healthcare insurance is not provided through the company, the only requirement is to inform employees of the existence of health insurance marketplaces

 Compensation

  • Pay schedules
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses
  • Performance Reviews

Benefit programs and eligibility requirements

  • Required benefits
  • Optional benefits
    • Health insurance
    • Retirement plans
    • Wellness programs

Workplace Expectations

  • Schedules
  • Hours
  • Punctuality
  • Absences
  • Breaks
  • Telecommuting (if an option)
  • Flex schedule (if an option)
  • Dress guidelines
  • Code of ethics
  • Legal obligations
  • Office conduct

General Employment Information

  • Overview of business
  • Employment eligibility
  • Job classifications
  • Employee referral
  • Employee records
  • Job postings
  • Probationary periods
  • Resignation procedures

Safety and Security

  • Company’s commitment to and policies for creating a safe and secure workplace
  • Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s laws related to:
      • Accidents & injury reporting
      • Safety hazards
      • Safety suggestions

Technology and Equipment

  • Policies for appropriate technology (computers, mobile devices, software) use
  • Security requirements for electronic information
  • Privacy and security guidelines

Social Media & Traditional Media

  • Guidelines, suggestions and training related to work and social media
  • Policies related to work-related  communications with news media

Leave Policies

  • Family medical leave
  • Jury duty
  • Military leave
  • Time off for comply with state and local laws (for example, court appearance, voting)
  • Vacation
  • Holiday
  • Bereavement
  • Sick leave

(via: Small Business Administration)