Some experts say the employee handbook should be a good-news tool. It will help you attract qualified people and keep those you already have.

While some categories, such as paid holidays, are specific, the book’s forward should emphasize that it contains general guidelines. When writing it, advisors at INC. magazine recommend saying “we may” in the book, rather than “we will.”

Avoid making the book sound like a contract and be sure to mention in the preface that policies can be changed at your discretion.

Relationships with employees are governed by many laws. They apply to businesses with one employee or more.

  • Harassment and discrimination. State that you are an equal opportunity employer in every way. State that you will not tolerate harassment or discrimination. Outline steps an employee can take to report a violation, such as reporting it to two people. Tell how you respond to discrimination or harassment, and emphasize that the employee who makes the claim will not face retaliation.
  • Workweek and hours. Generally tell the days and hours of the workweek and rules for breaks and meals. State which employees are paid for overtime. Tell the difference between an hourly worker and a salaried worker who is not paid for overtime.
  • Safety. If workers operate in the printing plant, a safety policy should be given that is commensurate with state and federal regulations. Check with the Department of Labor in your state.
  • Attendance, tardiness, dress code, use of the telephone and more. Don’t address minor areas, but focus on your actual needs. Avoid reminding people of the punishment they face for each infraction. Have one category at the end of the book that details discipline.
  • Paid time off. Rather than having separate sick days and vacation policies, some businesses offer “paid time off,” which can be used at the employee’s discretion. Unused days can be paid at the end of the year.
  • Benefits. Some are specified by state and federal law, such as time off for jury duty and military service. Check the rules.
  • Voluntary benefits. More good news. Tell about any health insurance plan, retirement accounts, and other benefits you offer.
  • Each employee should sign a statement saying they have received the employee handbook.

Joe Kern  is the Marketing and Customer Care Manager at PagePath Technologies. PagePath was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Plano, Illinois. PagePath’s MyOrderDesk is an eCommerce solution that combines, Web-to-Print, automated proofing, pricing, reordering and more. It seamlessly integrates into a printing organization’s existing website or can be used as a standalone site. MyOrderDesk is known throughout the printing industry as the leader in Web-to-Print software.