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Does Your Policy Manual
Need a Tune Up?



Does Your Policy Manual Need a Tune Up?

Is your Human Resources Policy Manual a set of ad hoc policies written as items came up? Or, have you put together a well thought out set of policies that serve to both communicate the company’s position on the employment relationship and provide important information to employees. A poorly written Human Resources policy manual can create a great deal of havoc in the work place. A well written manual can provide you with a good Human Resources road map for your company. The absence of written policies does not mean that you don’t have them. What you and your managers do every day in handling the employment relationship can become policy through action.

Every organization, no matter how small, should have some basic written policies that define the company’s position on the employment relationship. Different states treat the creation and necessity for having policies in writing differently, so make sure that you consult someone familiar with what is required in the states in which you operate.

How to Structure Your Manual
The following is a suggested list of items you should include in your policy manual.


  • Employment at Will Statement
  • Reemployment of Former Employees
  • Employment of Relatives
  • Non-Discrimination — Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy
  • Background Check policy
  • Zero Tolerance on Workplace Violence
  • Weapons Policy
  • Employee Classification and Work Hours
  • Sexual Harassment and General Harassment Policy


  • Handling of pay, payroll schedule, Timesheets, etc.
  • Salary Administration and merit guidelines policy
  • Eligibility and Payment of overtime
  • Garnishments and deductions
  • Employee Loans
  • Special payments such as bonuses, incentives


  • General Leaves of Absence
  • Military Leave
  • FMLA
  • Paid Time Off Account or Vacation, policy
  • Weather Emergencies
  • Attendance policy
  • Holidays
  • Bereavement
  • Jury Duty/Voting


  • Performance Evaluations
  • Progressive Counseling on performance
  • Open Door, Grievance or Arbitration/Mediation Process
  • Policy on responding to requests for references
  • Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality
  • Misappropriation of theft policy
  • Telephone Monitoring policy
  • Voice mail, Internet and Cell Phone Policy
  • Access to personnel files


  • Termination — voluntary/involuntary
  • Severance/Reduction in Force
  • Retirement
  • Final Pay


  • Use of company credit cards, expense accounts
  • Acceptance of gifts, vendors
  • Relocation reimbursement policy
  • Changes to the manual, acknowledgement and communication to employees.

Make sure the language you use when drafting your policies is simply, easy to understand and gives the employees and managers a definite and clear picture of the policy. Don’t draft your policy manual using heavy amounts of legal language. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” manual. While you can get examples of policies to give you ideas, make sure your manual fits your organization.

Once you have your manual written, have it reviewed by an expert to insure that you have covered all the legal areas and have not left things open for misinterpretation. This will be money well spent.

Provide a copy of the Human Resources Policy Manual to each employee or ensure that the employees have easily available access to the manual, for example through a company Intranet. Obtain an acknowledgement that the employee has been given access to the manual and retain those records as confirmation that the information and policies have been communicated. When policies are changed, added or reissued use a method that will insure all employees get the information in a timely manner. If you choose to use printed copies, from time to time reissue the entire manual and collect old out of date copies to make sure employees and manager have the latest and most up to date version.

Information in this article is not intended to provide legal or human resources compliance advice and should be used for general information only.

KM Consulting Group provides Human Resources solutions to small and medium size companies.

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