There are lots of policies that can and should go in an employee manual; here are the top ten from a lawyer’s perspective:
- EEO and Harassment. This is pretty basic boilerplate covering nondiscrimination, harassment, and how to report it.
- Attendance/Punctuality. Employers can require that employees show up for work, so write it down if you do.
- Standards of Conduct. This covers all kinds of things, from integrity to working well with others and communicating in a professional manner. Specify that the list is not meant to be exhaustive, only to provide examples of inappropriate conduct.
- Drugs and Alcohol. Make it clear that you don’t tolerate it. But don’t threaten drug testing unless you have a proper drug testing policy (reviewed by an experienced lawyer); Montana takes employee privacy seriously.
- Email and Internet Use. State any restrictions, specify that the system is the property of the company, and remind employees that they have no expectation of privacy when working on a company computer.
- Benefits. It is easier to describe benefits and who is eligible for them in general terms and point employees toward the person who knows the details, so that the manual doesn’t need to be updated all the time. Include disclaimers stating that benefits change from time to time.
- FMLA (if applicable). Describe in general terms who is eligible and specify any choices allowed by FMLA (such as whether or not FMLA runs concurrently with paid leave).
- Probationary Period. In Montana, this is six months by default, but employers can set a different period if they put it in writing. Don’t list any standards for passing the probation.
- Discipline. List disciplinary procedures and provide for employer’s discretion in applying them. This is a good one to have a lawyer review.
- Termination Grievance Policy. Make use of this tool to protect businesses, but make sure that all employees get a copy of the policy when they leave the company, for any reason.
Thanks to Amy Christensen for an informative presentation on employee manuals!