The employee handbook, guidelines, or company policy manual— is an essential part of due process or fairness, which requires that people should first be informed of the standards of conduct expected of them before they can be accused of any transgression.
WHAT IT IS
While rules and regulations are its usual concerns, an employee handbook is, of course, also an effective motivational tool. They inform employees of the benefits and privileges they are entitled to by virtue of their employment as well as the company’s reward system for good performance. Ideally, it should also cover the company’s system of addressing employee concerns.
There may be different reasons for drafting an employee handbook. It may simply be to orient new employees on the history and ideals of the company. It may be a result of a comprehensive effort by management to standardize policies and procedures. Or, it may just be there to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to doing his or her job.
BASIS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS
[related|post]Depending on its purpose, an employee handbook may be presented either as loose guidelines that offer flexibility by using words such as “may” or “should,” or as strict commandments to be observed with words like “shall” or “must,” with corresponding penalties for violations.
It should be remembered, though, that company policies are often referred to when an employee commits an infraction and, in that sense, the clarity of the rules could have some legal effect. In fact, any vagueness in the said policies would usually be resolved in favor of the employee and against the company that drafted the rule in the first place.
In drafting an employee handbook, therefore, one should look at the specific concerns of the establishment. For example, if a company’s employees are usually out on sales calls, then the company may need to formulate very strict guidelines on how to determine when time out of the office is used for company purposes. Retail stores would have different priorities, like minimizing loss of inventory. On the other hand, a security agency may be very strict when it comes to absenteeism and tardiness.