What is an Employee Handbook?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An employee handbook is a procedural manual which is handed out to people when they commence employment with a new company. The size and complexity of this manual vary widely; a small business, for example, might provide a few photocopied pages, while a major corporation might provide employees with a printed booklet or binder. If you receive an employee manual, it is an excellent idea to read it over with care, since it may answer questions about your workplace while also offering clues on how to succeed as an employee.

An employee handbook may include a computer usage policy, for example.
An employee handbook may include a computer usage policy, for example.

A typical employee manual includes information on workplace policies and procedures, along with legal documents which provide specific data on the organization of the company. The language in an employee handbook can get quite complex, as the authors attempt to clearly define issues which may face employees during their time with the company. Typically, a company will require employees to sign a document indicating that they have read and understood the employee handbook.

Dress codes are usually part of an employee handbook.
Dress codes are usually part of an employee handbook.

Workplace policies typically include dress codes, a drug policy, a statement on sexual harassment and diversity, and information about time off for religious, personal, or medical reasons. Information about discounts, benefits, and retirement plans offered to employees may also be included in this section, along with material about how to apply for benefits. In addition, a behavioral code may be included, so that employees are aware of how they should conduct themselves at work. The workplace policies section may also indicate the penalties for violations of these policies, which serves as a legal warning.

Under the section of an employee handbook that covers workplace procedures, employees will learn about how to perform common tasks around the office or worksite. This section may include information on who to go to with complaints, how to get materials copied and distributed, and how to handle clients of the company. By setting standard procedures for routine events in the office, the employer ensures that all situations are handled uniformly. Employees find that reading this section may provide answers to a lot of common questions.

Legal information typically includes a chart showing the organization of the company, along with disclosures about paydays, hiring practices, and union membership. The documents in this section of an employee handbook may be more difficult to read because of the legal language, but they should be carefully inspected to ensure that you fully understand all of the legal ramifications of your employment. This is especially important if you work handling confidential or sensitive material, as there may be specific legal restrictions which you need to be aware of.

An employee handbook will cover the company's sexual harassment policy.
An employee handbook will cover the company's sexual harassment policy.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


BrickBack-I also think that the federal employee handbook also includes the holidays that the government observes as well as the overtime pay regulations and the benefit programs and pension calculations with the vestment schedules.

A sample employee handbook is nothing more than the rules and regulations as well as the outlining benefits that an employee offers for their position.

An hr employee handbook is really a legal document that supports the company in case there is difficult separation issue in which the employee does not accept their separation from the company.

The employee policy handbook offers proof that the employee was made aware of the company’s policies and procedures. Most states are considered at will states in which the employee could be terminated for any reason, but this gives the company even more leverage in a wrongful termination lawsuit.


An employee policy handbook or an employee handbook manual offers all of the employees the rules and regulations of the workplace.

Policies pertaining to tardiness and absences are addressed so that all employees are aware of the expectations.

In addition, the company employee handbook will also specify dress code and policies pertaining to vacation time and how the company accrues this time off.

There are also legal documents that review policies pertaining to sexual harassment as well as diversity training. There is usually a page in which the employee has to sign in order to document proof that the employee was aware of these rules and regulations.

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