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What should employers include in their staff handbook.

28 March 2023
What should employers include in their staff handbook.

All employers want to have a workforce that has high productivity and a low staff turnover. To achieve this, your employer should implement a Staff Handbook which contains workplace rules, standards, and procedures. Here, we provide an outline of what employers should include in their staff handbook.

What is a staff handbook?

A staff handbook sets out an employer’s policies, procedures, and rules. The handbook should also outline what is expected of each employee and what an employee can expect of their employer.

If it has been written well, the staff handbook should provide employees with clear guidance so that they are left understanding their rights and responsibilities. 

What should be included in a staff handbook?

Disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures 
These are legal requirements. The handbook should clearly set out the procedure to be followed if an employee has a grievance against their employer or if they are the subject of disciplinary action. The procedure should include a provision for appealing against a decision and should comply with the guidelines set out by ACAS.

In addition, the employee handbook should also make provision for dealing with
performance issues.

Health and Safety
If a business employs five or more employees, they are required by law to have a written statement of general policy on health and safety. This should include details of health and safety representatives, cover the use of equipment, and how work can be completed safely.

Equal opportunities and anti-discrimination
The staff handbook should include an employer’s policy in relation to harassment and discrimination based on gender, trans status, marital status, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age. It should also include information about their policy in respect of equal opportunities, such as training, promotion, or recruitment.

Data protection
Legally, an employer must have arrangements in place to ensure safe storage and
processing of data relating to employees, details of which should be included within the staff handbook.

Time off and absence
The staff handbook may include details of an employer’s policies on annual leave, maternity, paternity, and adoption leave, time off for sickness, dependants, or compassionate and bereavement leave. It could also include details of absence management, such as reporting requirements and any procedures for managing short- and long-term absences.

Flexible working, home working, and termination policies
As home working and flexi-time are increasingly common realities, it is recommended that a staff handbook includes details of an employer’s approach to these circumstances. The staff handbook should also include a policy and procedure in respect of retirement or redundancy.

Why implement a staff handbook, is it really needed?

This is a question we get asked frequently.

Simply, a staff handbook, although not a legal requirement, is an important document that employers can refer to if an employee has questions regarding their position or wishes to raise a grievance. It ensures that employers use the same process and procedures, to avoid potential claims. It allows makes it easier for employers to signpost employees on various matters as they may arise during an employment relationship.

Most importantly, it can be extremely useful if an employer receives a claim by an
employee as evidence, in an employment tribunal. We hope that you have found this post on ‘What should employers include in their staff handbook’ useful. Our employment law and HR experts are able to provide advice and guidance on staff handbooks. Contact us here to learn more.

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