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Employee Handbook

An employee handbook can be a valuable communication resource for employers and employees. It provides written guidance and information related to the history, mission, values, policies, procedures and benefits of the organization. It is also seen as a way to protect employers from claims of discrimination or unfair treatment. It is an easily accessible guide that outlines company policies and practices as well as management expectations. Common key employment terms (KETs), e.g. leave policy, medical benefits, can be provided in employee handbook.

Vice versa, a policy is a written statement that describes the employer’s standards and objectives in relation to various employee activities and employment -related matters.

The employer shall require each employee to provide written confirmation of receipt of the handbook. Acknowledgments should be kept in the employee’s personnel file as a way for the organization to determine that the employee is aware of the policy. The manual should not be construed as an employment agreement.

Step 1: Review and Make Necessary Revisions to Current Company Policies

Company policies and procedures were used as a source for handbook preparation.

Employers should scan the work environment to find out common practices that currently exist; if there is no policy, it should be implemented. Once employer has updated policies and formalized common practices, HR should review them, and use these final policies to develop employee handbook.

Employers should also consider the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM's) guidance pertaining to employment practices.

Step 2: Outline the Content to Include in the Employee Handbook

Topics included in the employee handbook should include the employer’s mission statement, equal employment opportunity statement, contract disclaimer and at-will employment statement (where allowed), the purpose of the employee handbook and background information about the company. The decision to include other topics is up to the employer. An important factor to consider is the mandate of laws that affect employees, such as the Employment Act, the Workplace Safety and Health Act, the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), and the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. If an employer fails to provide this information in an employee handbook, it can lead to confusion and non-compliance with the law. Examples of table of contents can be found at the end of this guide.

Step 3: Create a Summarized Version of Each Policy and Procedure

The employee handbook should contain a statement summarizing each policy and procedure. The statement should be easy to read and not contain legal language — in other words, it should speak to an audience of employees and be formulated accordingly.

Step 4: Add Each Summary Statement in the Appropriate Section according to the Outline

Once HR has completed the employee handbook guidelines, the next step is to write the organization’s position, rules or policies under each outline topic.

Step 5: Review the Entire Handbook

The review process ensures the information is accurate and easy to understand. The handbook can be reviewed by HR, the project team, or both.

Step 6: Select a Publishing Means

The next step is to find a vendor to produce a complete employee handbook. Organizations can obtain a Request for Proposals from a select number of vendors. After selecting a vendor, the employer should work with the vendor to complete each step in the publishing process, including formatting the handbook into specific sizes and styles. Once formatted, final reviews and approvals must be made before submitting the handbook for printing.

Step 7: Distribute the Handbook

Once the vendor returns copies of the completed handbook, the organization must establish a method for distribution, such as during a new recruitment orientation or as a manual distribution to employees.

Some employers publish handbook electronically using their intranet or internal email; however, physical copies should be provided to employees who do not have access to the Internet or at the request of an employee. Posting an employee handbook on the company intranet or via email is also useful when changes to policies and need to be communicated with employees. Save on printing costs with online access for employees - each employee will login to access their handbook.

Step 8: Update as Needed

Employers should appoint a person responsible for updating the employee handbook when employment laws or internal policies change. It is also important to conduct a full handbook review on a regular basis (e.g. every 1 to 2 years) to ensure no legal or policy changes have been overlooked and all policies remain relevant and consistently supported within the organization.


The following is an example of an outline or Table of Contents for items that are typically included in an employee handbook.

1. Welcome Message to New Employees and Recognition of Current Employees

  1. Company Mission Statement

  2. Equal Opportunity Statement

  3. Contractual Disclaimer and At-Will Statement

  4. Purpose of the Employee Handbook

  5. Background Information on the Company

  6. Orientation

2. Policies and Procedures

  1. Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  2. Personal Safety

  3. Sexual Harassment

  4. Drug and Alcohol

  5. Violence and Weapons

  6. Attendance

  7. Hours of Work

  8. Meal and Rest Periods

  9. Overtime

  10. Timekeeping

  11. Personnel Records

  12. Paydays

  13. Payroll Deductions

  14. Garnishments

  15. Performance Reviews

  16. Promotions

  17. Transfers

  18. Termination: Reduction in Force, Layoff/Recall

  19. Bulletin Boards

  20. Telephone/E-mail/Internet Use

  21. Social Media

3. Benefits

  1. Holidays

  2. Vacation

  3. Sick Leave

  4. Disability Leave

  5. Personal Leave

  6. Bereavement Leave

  7. Family and Medical Leave

  8. NSmen Leave

  9. Paid Time Off

  10. Health Insurance

  11. Life Insurance

  12. Retirement and Pension Plans

  13. Call-In/Report-In Pay

  14. Training

  15. Educational Assistance Program

  16. Service Awards

  17. Workers' Compensation

4. Employee and Employer Responsibility for Safety

  1. Commitment of the Company

  2. Emergency Procedures

  3. Medical Services

  4. Personal Protective Equipment

  5. OSHA Requirements: Safety Rules, Reporting Accidents

5. Procedures

1. Standards of Conduct

2. Progressive Discipline

3. Exit Process

6. Summary and Acknowledgment

1. The Importance of the Policies and Procedures

2. Acknowledgment of Receipt

It should also include an additional disclaimer that the employer has the right to change the rules without notice, that hiring is at will (where allowed), and that the handbook does not create a contract.

Employee Handbooks

Creating and updating an employee handbook can be overwhelming, costly, time consuming and expose you to unnecessary risk. With Bestar’s employee handbook writing service you’ll save time, money and get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date with today’s ever changing employment policies.

Any employee handbooks should be reviewed for compliance with laws and regulations and should be modified to suit your organization's culture, industry and practices. Bestar offers service for creating an Employee Handbook for your company. Bestar takes the work out of creating and maintaining an employee reference manual.

Minimize your liability – your handbook is written and designed by leading employment law experts at Bestar. Contact us.

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