1. Introduction and overview
The purpose of this handbook
Welcome to the team! This employee handbook for [company name] is designed to familiarize you with the culture, expectations and policies that shape our workplace. Whether you’re working in the office or remotely, we’re confident that being familiar with its contents will help ensure you can enjoy the most positive and constructive professional experience as part of our company.
A little bit about us:
We’ve been in business since [year].
We operate on the philosophy that [company philosophy].
Our main goal is [company’s main goal].
Our mission: [company mission statement].
Keep in mind that this handbook doesn’t represent a guarantee of employment or a contract. It simply lays out the commitments, responsibilities and expectations that help us all come together to create a fair, equitable and welcoming workplace.
We’re glad to have you aboard, and we’re looking forward to seeing what great things you accomplish with us. Please read the handbook in full and consult it as needed. Feel free to direct any questions about its contents or requests for clarification to [company contact].
A welcome from the CEO
This should be a personal take on the history, achievements, goals and vision of the company from the CEO’s vantage point. It should avoid buzzwords and jargon and strike a relatable, personable note that puts a human face on the company’s leadership and executive team. You can also include short biographical notes about other senior team members here.
An overview of [company name]
This should expand on the bullet points in the above section entitled “The purpose of this handbook” and present an overall history of the company and an engaging picture of its performance. Illustrations, charts and quotes from team members, founders or satisfied clients can help to make this content both accessible and memorable. It should also cover the most expansive versions of your mission and vision statements.
Changes in policy
We produce [annual] updates of this handbook as we update our policies to stay in step with employment trends and new legislation. The policies stated in the current version of the handbook supersede the content of documents from prior years. If you have ideas on how to improve our workplace or have spotted mistakes or inconsistencies in this document, we’re happy to hear from you: Please check in with [company contact].
2. Workplace policies
The policies in this section apply to everyone at [company name], from executives to contractors, salaried employees to volunteers and stakeholders to vendors. The policies are aimed at creating a pleasant and productive environment that’s in full compliance with our legal and social responsibilities.
Equal opportunity policy
The text here assumes an American company that’s answerable to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You may need to adjust it to refer to your own local laws if your company is in another jurisdiction.
[Company name] is an equal opportunity employer in compliance with the full range of laws and acts that govern the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. All our employees, including executives and HR, can expect to be treated with respect and professionalism. That means:
Our workspaces have no place for discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability or veteran status. Add additional identities as your company sees fit.
Our hiring and promotion practices are based on potential, skills and experience, and we use every possible means to avoid introducing other biases to that process.
We strive to make language in our workplace—including on signs, announcements, job ads and official documents—inclusive and diversity-sensitive.
No employee will ever be penalized or retaliated against for reporting discrimination, harassment or inappropriate or offensive behavior. We’re committed to dealing decisively with any discriminatory actions against you or your colleagues.
For that reason, we ask everyone to promptly report such incidents to HR. They will be met with disciplinary action, as will any attempt by the employees involved to retaliate against someone they suspect of reporting them.
Requesting money or other forms of support or participation in groups unrelated to our company is called solicitation. This also includes disseminating commercial, political or religious literature. We prohibit solicitation by nonemployees on our premises.
Employees may solicit from their colleagues only in specific situations:
Organizing an event for another employee
Seeking support for a charity or cause the company has authorized
Inviting colleagues to authorized nonbusiness events such as recreational activities or volunteer opportunities
Soliciting participation in a legally protected employment-related body such as a union
Whatever the specifics, solicitation should never be allowed to distract others from their work.
3. Employment relationship
“Employees” may include exempt, nonexempt, temporary, regular full-time, regular part-time and other employees who report to [company name] in the performance of their duties and are required to abide by our code of conduct.
On average, regular full-time employees of [company name] work approximately [number of hours] per week, while regular part-time employees work fewer than [number of hours] per week.
Employment can be under the terms of a temporary or an indefinite duration contract. Full-time employees under the latter kind of contract are entitled to a full benefits package (see below).
Exempt and nonexempt employees
[This section of the employee handbook sample applies to American companies under the Fair Labor Standards Act.]
Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines specify two types of employees: nonexempt employees who are covered by the FLSA’s requirements for minimum wage and overtime pay, and exempt employees who meet certain criteria that put them outside this category. HR can confirm whether your position is exempt or nonexempt.
[This section may not be relevant for companies outside the U.S. This document assumes your company is subject to American law and labor standards.]
Employment in the U.S. is “at-will,” which means either you or [company name] may choose to terminate the employment relationship at any time for any nondiscriminatory cause.
Recruitment and selection
Our recruitment and selection process involves background checks for the final contenders for a position, carried out in compliance with the law and with the guidance of our HR department. We will also check with references you provide during the application process. The assigned recruitment officer for the position you’re applying to will keep you informed about each stage of the interview and intake process and what to expect.
Noncompete and nondisclosure agreements
You may be asked to sign a noncompete and nondisclosure agreement (NDA) once your hiring is finalized.
4. General employment information
[Company name] will pay your salary or wage [interval] by [bank transfers/check].
We review wages and salaries annually, usually at or around the anniversary of your hiring. Depending on the circumstances, reviews might be more frequent.
[Company name] pays for time spent directly on work-related tasks. If you’re using a time clock on-premises, you should be aware that altering time records or recording on someone else’s time record can result in disciplinary action or even termination.
If you’re not using a time clock, you’re still responsible for tracking your time accurately and submitting records in an approved method [format or software] to your manager. If you have questions about timekeeping, reach out to HR or your supervisor.
Expenses and reimbursements
Some activities and job requirements involve expenses that are reimbursable. It’s your responsibility to keep track of and report expenses for reimbursement, with the associated receipts or records.
Business travel, relocation, training and professional development, and approved outings with business partners are examples of expenses that can be reimbursed. All such activities need to be preauthorized by your manager or supervisor before you can claim reimbursement for them.
Working from home
Some job descriptions may allow you to work from home, typically for [length of time]. More frequent telecommuting may be possible in consultation with your manager.
Working from home or remote work (see below) requires a fast and secure internet connection and associated devices. Check in frequently with your team to make sure collaboration remains as seamless as possible.
Some positions involve occasional permanent remote work. Employees in those positions are asked to adhere to [company name]’s security and confidentiality protocols, overall code of conduct requirements and support of our equal opportunity policies.
Where circumstances require your manager to ask you to work more than your normal hours, [company name] will compensate you for overtime according to the applicable local and national regulations. For exempt employees who aren’t covered by FLSA requirements for overtime, we set a cap of [number of hours per week] of overtime requests.
[Company name] offers a benefits program for [regular full-time] and [regular part-time] employees.
[Company name] offers [types of insurance programs] for regular full-time employees (as determined by the carrier of the policies). The details of these packages are outside the scope of this handbook, but you can contact [the appropriate person] for more information.
Additionally, in the event of resigning or termination, a leave of absence, reduction in hours or other qualifying events, you may be eligible for benefits on our health plan through the Federal Consolidated Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) even when eligibility would normally be lost.
[Company name] will provide a notice describing your rights under COBRA when you’re eligible for coverage under our plan.
Social Security and Medicare
[Company name] is required by law to withhold income tax from your earnings to participate in Social Security and Medicare matching programs. You can consult [appropriate person] to find out the current percentage of these deferrals.
Paid vacation is available to regular part-time and regular full-time employees after their first year with [company name]. Unused vacation pay will be added to your final paycheck if you leave the company.
You can carry one week of vacation from one calendar year to the next. Vacations longer than a week should be requested at least two months before they begin.
Jury duty or military leave
[Company name] provides [unpaid or paid] time off for performing jury duty or taking military leave. You need to provide us with copies of the associated paperwork. If in a regular paid position, you’ll remain on the payroll until you’ve discharged your civic duties.
6. Professionalism (code of conduct)
You’re expected to be present during scheduled working hours. That includes being reachable and engaged during scheduled hours if working remotely. Contact your manager to let them know about any emergency situations that arise as soon as possible. Unscheduled absences due to acute medical emergencies, accidents or similarly serious circumstances won’t be penalized, but otherwise, we’d like to be informed when you won’t be available or coming in.
Our standard dress code is [business/business casual/smart casual/casual]. Specific circumstances, such as meetings with clients, might require a more formal dress standard. Clothes and overall personal hygiene should be clean and professional. We respect and permit clothes, hair and accessories related to religion, race, ethnicity or disability. Beyond the above guidelines, we don’t have specific requirements for what you should wear.
Cell phone and technology use
When using digital technology and the internet at [company name]’s premises, you should follow these guidelines:
Don’t use our internet connection to upload or download obscene, offensive or illegal material (including pirated media or software).
Never send confidential data to an unknown recipient.
Avoid dangerous websites that can compromise the company’s cybersecurity.
Don’t use our connection for illegal or unauthorized activities, including hacking or fraud.
Don’t invade others’ privacy.
Cell phones should be used to benefit your work, such as with business calls and productivity apps. Avoid using your phone for games or texting, and keep personal calls brief and private. Never use your phone while driving a company vehicle.
Corporate email can be used for work purposes without restriction within the above safety guidelines about the internet. Personal use that avoids spamming or the sending of confidential information is permitted.
Never use corporate email to send insulting or discriminatory messages or to sign up for disreputable or illegal websites. If signing up for a competitor’s services, you should get authorization from your manager first. Be vigilant about phishing messages and malware, and consult our IT team if you have any doubts about a message you’ve received.
Social media use should be disciplined, without distracting from your work-related tasks, and you should always make clear that your personal accounts and views do not represent [company name]’s. Avoid sharing confidential information and defamatory, offensive or derogatory content.
[Company name] works hard to protect private information about employees, clients or partners. This applies to information such as employee records, unpublished financials, official documents, customer data and partner or vendor data.
We restrict and monitor access to such data and maintain secure networks. Your part in keeping this information secure consists of:
Locking and securing confidential files
Using secure devices only for viewing and storing confidential data
Avoiding the removal of confidential files from [company name]’s premises unless necessary
Never disclosing confidential information outside the company
Shredding confidential documents that are no longer needed
Breaching confidentiality rules for personal profit is grounds for immediate termination. Unintentional breaches may lead to disciplinary action, and repeated breaches even when unintentional may eventually lead to termination.
[The text below assumes a jurisdiction in which marijuana use has been legalized, as this is becoming more common. If this is not the case where your company operates, you may need to slightly adjust the text. The final section about assistance for addiction applies only if your company has the resources to set up and run an EAP.]
[Company name] maintains a smoke-free work environment for the health of all our employees. Smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor spaces with the appropriate receptacles for disposing of cigarettes. It is not permitted anywhere else on the premises.
[Company name] also maintains a drug-free work environment and prohibits the use, distribution or sale of illegal substances of any kind on company property. Legal but intoxicating substances such as alcohol and marijuana are also prohibited during working hours, although they may be permitted in moderation at company events.
Inform your manager if you feel any prescription medication you are currently taking may affect you. You may be subject to disciplinary action if your manager suspects substance abuse is affecting your work, even if the substance use didn’t take place directly on company property.
Sobriety is a key component of professional success. If you should find yourself struggling with addiction, we offer an Employee Assistance Program that can help. You can get in touch confidentially with our EAP Officer at [contact information].
Conflicts of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when an employee’s personal goals are no longer in line with their responsibilities. They can be a serious issue that, aside from leading to termination of employment when discovered, can also lead to serious legal jeopardy, depending on the circumstances.
It’s up to all of us to be vigilant about circumstances that can lead to conflicts of interest for ourselves, close colleagues and direct reports. Make sure you’re always acting in accordance with ethical business practices and in the best interests of the company.
Harassment, discrimination or violence
Having a happy and productive workplace means making everyone’s safety and comfort a priority. We take workplace harassment and violence very seriously. It can come in several forms.
General workplace harassment includes intentional sabotage of someone else’s work, derogatory ethnic or religious commentary, rumormongering or subjecting others to public ridicule or demeaning demands.
Sexual harassment includes unwanted touching or advances, inappropriate sexual jokes, visible display of suggestive sexual images, leering and catcalling and demands for sexual favors. It’s illegal, and employees found to have committed sexual harassment will face immediate termination.
Workplace violence is an extremely serious form of harassment. Physical or sexual assault, threats of harm, destruction of property and verbal and psychological abuse fall into this category. Verbally threatening other employees will lead to serious disciplinary action. Employees found to have committed acts of violence will be immediately terminated and may face criminal charges.
What to do about harassment or violence
You should always feel free to contact HR as soon as you’re aware of any dynamic of harassment developing, no matter how minor. You can also reach out to your manager for advice as soon as you’re aware of a potential problem with a customer, stakeholder or team member.
If witnessing violence on [company name]’s premises, discreetly contact security and don’t get directly involved. If you suspect or know someone is being violent, contact HR. We keep reports confidential and investigate them discreetly.
7. Exit policy
Every employee’s time with the company comes to an end eventually. This section discusses [company name]’s policies for handling that process.
[Company name] takes a measured and progressive attitude toward discipline. Our goal is usually to work with employees to resolve problems positively, and only in very specific circumstances mentioned in the above sections do we terminate employment immediately.
Disciplinary measures otherwise start with verbal warnings and informal meetings before escalating to formal reprimands, formal disciplinary meetings, penalties and termination.
Termination may occur with cause—through employee breach of contract, legal standards or the code of conduct—or without cause, such as layoffs that are no direct fault of the employee.
Eligible employees can be provided with severance packages and paid for accrued leave and vacation days if they weren’t terminated for cause. The specific terms will depend on local laws and relevant union agreements. [Company name] may try to help those laid off without cause to find other work.
Voluntary resignation is considered to be automatic if an employee doesn’t come to work for [number] of consecutive days without notice. You can resign without advance notice, but we typically request notice in writing [number] weeks before or [number] months prior for highly specialized positions.
Returning company property
Final payments, whatever the circumstance of the employee’s leaving, are made on the return of all company property in good condition.
[Company name] is happy to provide references for employees who leave in good standing.
Exit interviews are valuable to us in continuing to refine our policies and procedures. We always appreciate it when an employee can sit down with us for such an interview. We do our best to make it a constructive and comfortable experience.
8. Employee acknowledgment
Please sign below to acknowledge that you’ve read and understand the policies laid out in this employee handbook.
We’d like to thank you again for taking the time to read this handbook and for being part of the [company name] team. We look forward to working with you!