Internet templates for employee manuals and other documents are cheap and easy – but they may need some adjustments to work for your business. There are three major reasons an employee manual template needs to be tweaked:
- It is written for other states, which mostly allow at-will employment. Montana is not an at-will state.
- Many of the templates are written for large companies. If you have 15 employees, you don’t need references to five layers of management or FMLA.
- Many of them are written badly and they are difficult for employees to read and use.
After you download a template, actually read the document. There may be reasons for just having an employee manual, but having one you don’t follow can be brutal if you are ever sued for wrongful discharge. You also pass up a chance to have a document that can be helpful in managing your company.
Next, take out all the language that doesn’t belong there, at least any at-will language; anything you don’t or won’t do; references to departments, layers, and positions you don’t have; and sections that don’t apply to your business.
Make sure you can live up to any requirements the manual puts on your company. Can you always perform performance reviews when you say you will? Can you always respond within 5 working days to a request for information? If not, make it realistic.
Add any policies that you have lying around on miscellaneous pieces of paper, so all the information is in one place. In particular, look for your safety and customer service policies. Clean up the formatting and add a footer.
At this point, you will have something that looks like it fits your company, something that can actually be useful for you. Now you can have it reviewed by an employment lawyer to make sure that it addresses all the issues you need without extraneous policies. Giving an attorney a clean draft is an effective way to save money on legal fees!
For more details on making an internet template fit your company, see Tailoring an Internet Template Employee Manual to your Montana Small Business.