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Should your business have an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is an important document as it should provide clear guidance on how you want your business to operate. The policies and procedures in the handbook will help with employee relations, which in turn improves productivity and efficiency.

There are some other very compelling and important reasons why we suggest that employers should have an employee handbook. These are:-

1. A handbook can include vital policies relating to health & safety, policy on data protection, absence, disciplinary and grievance procedures, equal opportunities, disability and social media usage – these are now all critical aspects in employment law. All businesses should have clear policies on these issues. Having these policies and procedures in place creates consistency, a framework for dealing with issues, and demonstrates, if you have an employment law dispute, that the business has taken the issues seriously enough to have created a document which sets out their policies and procedures on these issues.

2. Having a handbook enables flexibility – it should be remembered that an employment contract is like any other form of contract. Once the contract is agreed, neither party can alter the terms without the other party’s consent. An attempt to change major conditions in a contract can result in a claim for breach of contract. It is therefore not generally a good idea to include things such as disciplinary procedures, policies about social media usage or many other important issues in the contract, as these are areas that an employer may well want to alter and adapt over time. A far better approach is for the employment contract to refer to an employee handbook, and to make clear that the handbook may be changed by the employer at its discretion. This gives an employer scope to adapt important policies in the future without breach of contract issues arising.

The benefits of having policies and procedures in place are far-reaching. Not only are they a good tool for establishing and communicating procedures to employees, but they can also prevent disputes occurring or alternatively, form a crucial piece of evidence should a claim be brought.

If this is something you would like to find out more about, please contact Stewart Pettigrew of the Corporate Team on 0141 333 6750.

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