One of the simplest ways to communicate basic yet important information and policies to employees is through the employee handbook. While a well-written employee handbook serves to proactively confirm company policies and it can be also a litigation prevention tool, not too many employers have one.
In this short article we tell you what exactly an employee handbook is, why you should have one and some tips about what to include in your employee handbook.
- What exactly is an employee handbook?
An employee handbook under Hungarian law shall be considered as the employer's internal policy, which can be unilaterally established by the employer.
From a practical point of view the employee handbook can be used to bring together employment and job-related information which employees need to know, such as employment policies, leave and vacation policies or the type of sanction the employer may impose in case the employee intentionally infringes the employment rules.
The employee handbook is a simple way to inform employees as it shall be considered delivered if it is published by a method which is usual at the employer (e.g on the Employer's Intranet, by e-mail).
- Why you should have an employee handbook?
In general, the benefits of having an employee handbook are many, the most important ones are the following:
1) every employee receives the same information about the basic rules of the workplace,
2) clear communication: your employees will know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you,
3) a well written employee handbook establishes clear standards that help to reduce disputes.
It is self-explanatory that if you never inform employees that there is a zero-tolerance of alcohol in the workplace, then you start writing up workers for drinking a beer after lunch, you have little ability to use the warnings to help enforce the policy. It is clear that it is very hard to enforce policies when nothing is written down, and this lack of clarity can lead to bad morale and inconsistent practices.
By contrast your employee will have a hard time explaining why a policy spelled out in the employee handbook was violated or ignored.
- What to include in the employee handbook?
As mentioned earlier there is a wide range of provisions that can be included in the employee handbook. In the following we present some examples.
Although the employer can not deviate from the regulations of the Labour Code to the disadvantage of the employee, he definitely can provide more vacation than the statutory minimum.
Also, the employer can set forth the process of the holiday request (e.g. how much uninterrupted holiday period is possible)
b) Employment policies
The main advantage of the employee handbook is the declaration of employment policies. In practice, it is the adoption of an employee handbook that creates the uniformity and definition which allows for the consistent application of an employer's policies.
Many businesses have a policy prohibiting employees from using drugs or alcohol in the workplace, which information shall be included in the employee handbook.
The handbook shall contain the types of conduct can get employees in trouble (repeated performance problems or any kind of harassment).
Once the employment policies are clear, the employer shall define the sanctions for the infringement of these policies.
Although the types of sanctions shall be set forth in the employment contract, it is a common practice to define the sanction-process in the employee handbook.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.