In June of this year, a California Taco Bell employee was reported as suspended and soon to be fired after an image of him licking a stack of empty taco shells appeared online. Though the Irvine-based company assured the public that the shells in question were used for training purposes only, the worker had violated food handling procedures. The posting of the photograph on Facebook by his then colleague no longer a Taco Bell employee violated company policy.
Arguably the entire incident could have been avoided had the camera-wielding culprit abided by company rules. Though not mentioned in the report, this policy may well have appeared in an employee handbook. An employee handbook is a crucial tool for maintaining a stable working environment, providing employers and employees with clear guidelines about what to expect from one another and setting down each party’s legal rights and duties.
According to the Small Business Administration, a handbook which includes the following information will be an important tool for employers:
- General Information — explain basic procedures such as those relating to termination and resignation
- Personal Conduct set down expected standards of conduct, including ethical behavior and any regulated professional standards applicable to the field of work
- Discrimination and Harassment — provide an explanation of relevant employment and labor laws at local, state and federal levels covering issues such as discrimination and harassment
- Schedules — include company policies for working hours, overtime, and any options for remote working arrangements
- Computers and IT — policies limiting the use of computers and protecting sensitive information affecting the privacy of both of employees and customers should be set down in the Taco Bell case above, a clear policy forbidding the online publication of employee photographs was already in place
- Salaries — include details of compensation and salary increases, and related policies such as overtime pay and bonus information
Company benefit programs, health and safety in the workplace and policies covering various types of leave can also be included in your handbook.
A detailed knowledge of a range of employment and labor law issues is indispensable in the preparation of an employee handbook. An experienced business attorney familiar with these issues will be qualified to assist you, and help you avoid potentially costly employment-related matters further down the line.