The Importance of an Updated Employee Handbook

BlogHR Advice Posted: Friday 21st October 2016 by

An employee handbook is an important communication tool for employers.

It clarifies the requirements and expectations of an employee, and can provide valuable legal protection for an employer. Laying out employee obligations, such as a Bullying & Harassment policy, or defining clear procedures for Disciplinary & Grievance, ensure all staff are accountable for their decision-making. Ultimately, having an up to date employee handbook will stand the employer in good stead in the case of any action taken by employees.

Employee handbooks are also an excellent tool for new hires. They providing a comprehensive and time-effective induction and training resource, and also provide line managers with an easy-to-access reference to company policies; this can minimise the need for day-to-day contact with HR.

Employee handbooks can also be used as a performance motivator, with information about a firm’s mission, culture and values, and showcasing the benefits and rewards it offers.

Don’t Let Your Employee Handbook Gather Dust

The value of an employee handbook lies in its accuracy and relevance. For this reason, it should be a ‘living’ document that is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

This will ensure that it remains compliant with HR law and best-practice. In 2016 alone, there has been a diverse range of updates to UK employment law, spanning the national living wage, gender pay reporting requirements, protection for apprentices, and changes to trade union law. Legislative change should be reflected as soon as practically possible within your company’s employee handbook.

Additionally, all firms experience periods of change where policies, processes and systems evolve, and key contacts change. Your employee handbook should be tailored to reflect these changes. Employees and line managers who understand policies and the importance of following them are less likely to perceive unfair treatment in their workplace.

For this reason, there should be a robust and efficient update process in place, which takes place at least every 12 months. Firms should respond more rapidly in the case of changes to HR law. All employees should receive a copy (physical or electronic) of the new document, and importantly should acknowledge that they’ve read and understand its contents in full.

Out With the Old, in With the New?

Make sure you keep a copy of all your old employee handbooks. Whilst they should be updated frequently, it’s important to be able to demonstrate the policies and procedures in place at a point in time, in case employees make complaints or file charges with relevant bodies about a particular incident.

It is always advisable to seek advice when writing and revising your employee handbook – the qualified HR experts at Human Results would be delighted to help.

Useful links:

Employee handbooks and contracts from ACAS.

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