Employee Handbooks are workplace manuals which outline how employees are to act in their positions and when engaging with other employees. Employee Handbooks will commonly set out workplace policies and procedures. Employee Handbooks should be separate to employee agreements and contracts for a number of practical reasons.
Firstly, any policy and procedure guidelines or rules should be uniformly applicable to all employees, while an employment agreement is a singular document between the employer and specific employee.
Secondly, well drafted Employee Handbooks should provide alternative options to apply to different roles and duties which employees may have rather than being specific to each employee position.
Thirdly, workplace policies and procedures are, and should be, regularly updated which is not possible with employee agreements unless there is consent from the employee.
The policies and procedures contained in Employee Handbooks should be clear, concise and applicable to all employees regardless of position or duties. Ensuring the Employee Handbook is drafted appropriately is essential to reducing workplace conflicts and enabling human resources teams to resolve issues efficiently and in accordance with relevant employment laws.
Some of the areas workplace policies and procedures should cover include:
The more clearly and definitively an employer sets out the expected conduct of employees the less likely disputes will arise in the workplace. It is essential however, to ensure that each and every employee is aware of the workplace policies and procedures and how they apply. Employee handbooks should be issued at the commencement of each employee’s employment and available for reference in the workplace. Making Employee Handbooks easily accessible and openly referred to by the employer will support employee awareness of the relevant policies and procedures.
Although Employee Handbooks should be applicable to all employees it is important to include in employee agreements reference to workplace policies and procedures. It is essential that an employer ensures each employee agreement includes a clause which requires the employee to comply with current and future policies and procedures.
Without clauses which link the employee’s obligations to the workplace policies and procedures it becomes much more difficult to enforce, for example; termination of employment on the basis of misconduct, or procedures for complaints without being able to point the employee to their obligation.
Employee Handbooks are the first port of call for employees and human resources teams where a conflict arises in the workplace. Therefore, it is essential that Employee Handbooks are clearly drafted to avoid ambiguity or confusion for employers and employees. Ideally, Employee Handbooks shouldn’t be required as employees are expected to behave according to general norms of the workplace environment. We do not, however, live in a perfect world and disputes do arise. Employers should be able to take some peace of mind that the Employee Handbook clearly sets out the procedure of dealing with employee disputes or grievances and what conduct is acceptable in the workplace. Employers should seriously consider having a legal practitioner to review or draft Employee Handbooks and employment agreements so that they can work in conjunction with each other. Otherwise, employers can be put in difficult situations and have no clear procedure to refer to.
It is essential you have experienced solicitors when dealing with employment law matters. If you are experiencing an issue with an employee or you’re an employee looking for guidance in a difficult situation, our employment law team will make sure your rights are protected.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane are focused on results. Our solicitors can assist you with drafting all employment documents. Call today to discuss your needs.