Michelle Cohen Levy

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An employee guidebook protects your new business from risk

| Oct 29, 2020 | Business Law |

There are many details and legal concerns that a new business owner has to address as they start a company. Many of these issues can be addressed one at a time with solutions changing and evolving as the business grows. Other issues demand appropriate attention from the earliest stages of the company’s existence.

People all too often think that they can put together employee policies as they hire more people, but that can lead to all kinds of issues. Employee conduct and rights are among the biggest concerns for you as an employer, whether you intend to have three staff members or 300. A new business of any size will benefit from developing an employee handbook before they hire anyone.

Many times, working with an attorney can be an effective way to draft both an employee handbook and necessary employment contracts to protect your business.

Employees who don’t know their roles and rights will make assumptions

You probably have specific expectations for the people who will work for you and intend to provide them with specific amounts of compensation. While you may have disclosed that information during interviews, it is of critical importance that every expectation, benefit and term of employment is in clear writing for the employee to refer to whenever they need.

Your employee handbook can include descriptions of job responsibilities, compensation and benefits rules and even guidelines for employee performance and behavior in areas other than job duties.

Handbooks protect you from social media and discrimination claims

One rule many companies integrate into their employee handbooks these days is a prohibition about talking about the company on social media or making inappropriate social media posts while listing the company as an employer. Such actions can protect you from an employee saying something inflammatory and going viral, possibly damaging your business.

You need to consider other areas of conduct that can create liability for your business. Banning the use of mind-altering substances at work is also a common inclusion. Almost all companies will benefit from having clear rules about reporting and not engaging in sexual harassment, or other forms of discrimination. Other needs will depend on the scale of the company and what functions it performs.

Deciding what to include in your handbook and employee contract can be difficult, which is another reason why getting good legal advice on these important topics is necessary early in the business planning process.