Why is it important for a business to have an employee handbook or personnel policy manual? There are many reasons.

Handbooks or policy manuals can set the tone for a business. They put all the employees on the same page with respect to workplace rules. They outline benefits for uniform and consistent treatment of employees, and they set forth the legal obligations of the employer.

Having an employee handbook or policy manual can show a good faith effort by an employer to comply with applicable laws, like EEOC, FMLA, and FLSA.

Types of polices to consider including in handbooks or policy manuals are internet usage at work, personal cell phone usage at work, attendance/punctuality, confidentiality and use of social media. If a business has decided employees will serve “at-will,” they should not include policies outlining probationary, introductory or trial periods, grievance procedures, or a lock-step discipline process. These types of policies in Minnesota could be interpreted as a guarantee of work or a contract between the employer and the employee (pdf) effectively eliminating an employee’s at-will status.

Employee handbooks or policy manuals should be tailored for each specific business; one size does not fit all when it comes to these documents. Employee handbooks or policy manuals make for better workplaces, because employees know what to expect and what is expected of them.