Employee Handbook: The Ultimate Guide 2021
Do you know how well an Employee Handbook can change your perception of the existing company? Do you recollect the last time you checked through the written guidelines mentioned in the employees’ Handbook? If you don’t know, I must tell you that going through it once will help you better understand the corporate culture and its ongoing practices. In addition, it will make you aware of the various benefits, perks, and benefits you’re currently eligible for, which earlier you never paid attention to in the middle of the working day.
The Employee Handbook holds a valuable and meaningful place in the company. It generally states and outlines the company within a few sections of the pages giving you an overall idea of how to work and what you can expect from the organization in terms of your growth.
In addition, employees often get curious about the company’s culture, terms, conditions, policies, and adopted procedures. Most of these things are directly stated in the Employee Handbook for creating a mutual awareness and agreement between the workers and the work providers in a particular company.
According to one of the researches done by Gusto, – ‘Almost 87% of the marginal sized or small business consisting of only 10 to 200 employees often are found to carry the protocol of handing over the Employee Handbook to the employees such that they can get a fair idea about the transparency of the company they are further going to work with.’
Please Note – In Nigeria, there is no law stating the companies to be under any obligation of providing the Employee Handbook to the workers of that company.
You must be aware of all the concepts related to an Employee Handbook, mainly from Nigeria; this is a must-read blog with a detailed description for you!
What is an Employee Handbook?
The Employee Handbook comprises all the rules, laws, and contract information designed for a specific company. The Handbook consists of all the fundamental knowledge which shall be helpful for the smooth regulation of the innermost conspiracies of a company. The generic idea or learning about the workplace is mentioned in the Employee Handbook guide.
Apart from this, the Employee Handbook is – ‘A contract between the employer and the employee where a breadwinner is made aware of what benefits he is eligible for along with the other workplace terms in return for his service.’
Mainly talking about Nigeria, – the adoption of all the written measures available in the Employee Handbook, which legally binds the employer and the employee into an agreement, isn’t necessarily an adopted phenomenon.
Employee Handbook Elements
The Employee Handbook is generally made to save the company from all the wrongful claims by the employee with regards to payment, performance, leaves, harassment, or termination. It also helps employees ensure a code of conduct stating a safe, bully-free, harassment-free, and respectable place for all the employees. Several elements altogether combine to form an Employee Handbook. List of which has been given below –
1. Employment Types
2. Working Hours
3. Overtime Compensation
4. Salary Period and Deduction based on the Payroll
5. Payment Discrepancies
6. Maintaining the Record of the time
7. Evaluation of the Employees
8. Minimum Attendance and Punctuality Requirement
9. Opportunities for Equal Employment
10. Sexual Harassment Policies
11. Employer and Employee Relationships
12. Yearly and Monthly Fixed Holidays
13. Length of Vacations
14. Personal or Sick Leave Elements
15. Military Leaves
16. Jury Duty
17. Witness Duty
18. Bereavement Leaves
19. Business and Travel Expenses
20. Employee Insurance
21. Employee Compensation Elements
22. Work-Related Rules
23. Confidential Information
24. Employment from the outside
25. Safety and Security related Precautions
26. Substance Abuse Policy
27. Policy concerned with the Electronic Communication
28. Social Networking Policy
29. Policy for Outside Visitors
30. Employment Records Policy
31. Company’s equipment, resources, and gadgets policy
32. Cabins and lunchrooms/food snacks policy
33. References from the Existing Employees Benefits
34. Employee Contract Termination
You will find all such information in a very detailed and descriptive manner in your final Employee Handbook. It would be best to go through it thoroughly to have a clear glance at the organization you will enter. Then, in case of any dilemmas, you may get it clarified by the company’s employer.
It will avoid any discrepancies and misunderstandings or contract to break in the future, where you will be held accountable for agreeing to the mutual terms and conditions. Henceforth, you will not be able to do anything at that point, so it’s better to read every line with clarity, mindfulness, and alertness.
Significance of the Employee Handbook:
The Employee Handbook carries unignorable importance altogether. All its significance is meant for the smooth-running relationship between the employer and the employee to avoid any conflict. The employee can ask for a copy of an Employee Handbook at any point in time. It is generally provided along with the appointment letter. It is highly quintessential for the following reasons –
Significance 1: Ensures the clear communication of the firm’s Terms, Conditions, and Policies
The most vital point of having an employee handbook is making them aware of the corporate culture and operating. New employees get a fair idea of working, sitting, and talking in the company based on its work culture and general environment. Creating a sense of belongingness, the new joiners, with the help of a handbook, adjust to the climate quickly, increasing their interaction with everybody that helps perform well and show results in the first month itself.
Employee Handbook also engages the employees to understand the value of the company, what sets them apart from other organizations, the history of the organization, what all they do in the shared time, resources available, what the company holds a passion for, and what are they aiming at the current point in time.
Significance 2: Compliance to laws set by State and a Federal government
Every organization is bound to obey the federal and State government predefined laws. It doesn’t matter where your office is located, which country you dwell in, or the strength of employees working in your company? – You all are required to adhere to the laws imposed by the government. The Employee Handbook states that the employer adheres to such laws, and keeping them in mind, the Handbook for staff workers has been designed. All of such entitlements are communicated to the workers through an Employee Handbook.
Taking an example, – If an employee is an active member of the military, then if he has to take leave for some time from the organization he is currently working with, all of his rights of taking a break will be mentioned in the ‘Military Leave Policy‘ that no company can deny at the time of taking the leave.
Furthermore, if they do so, you have the right to take action against them if you didn’t get any help from the internal organization. Henceforth, such policies are mandatory to communicate the employee’s request, employee-relatedly federal FMLA leave, government mandate leaves, and state disability leaves.
Significance 3: Saves Company from False Claims by Employees
Companies might get stuck in a situation where they are held by, false claims or assertions made by the employees at a certain point in time. An Employee Handbook can act as a big savior for the employers in coming out of these false allegations from the workers. In addition, the Handbook will eventually help them reach out to any lawsuit by giving a copy of the Employee Handbook to the third party or any attorney fighting your case.
In this manner, the Handbook will represent the slight care for the employees while they join the company. Also, the signed Employee Handbook will prove – the employee itself agree to the mutual terms and conditions set by the organization in terms of the following –
1. Getting complete awareness about the company culture
2. Committed time allocation to ask or clarify the questions that employees might have in their minds after reading the Employee Handbook.
3. No hidden policies, transparency in everything
4. Agreeing to the fact that they shall contact when they face any harassment, misbehavior, or bullying.
All such pointers add value when the employer is under distress because of the false allegations made by the employees. It will be highly effective for the lawyers fighting the case from the employers end to commonly point out the fair practices implemented by the employers written in the Employees handbook by defending them in such unpredictable scenarios.
Significance 4: Clarifies what’s expected out of the Employees
Getting a fair idea about the responsibilities at the time of joining is required to ensure employees’ confidence and communicate expectations well in advance. It also defines their KRAs and target goals. All the company policies are well written in the employee’s Handbook. They get a clear idea about applying for a leave, standard office timings, which software company operates on, how much span they have a Town Hall, etc.
A newcomer should be aware of all the mandatory things, like office reporting timings, lunch break hours, dress code, working days and working hours, monthly paid leaves, sick leaves, etc., that are communicated easily through the employee handbook.
Significance 5: Understanding of Company’s Benefits
The great benefits provided by the companies make them attractive by ten folds! If your company also has several services meant for the employees, then all of them must be communicated well in advance to the employees through an employee handbook at the time of their joining.
Remember that a robust benefits package will prove highly useful regarding employee retention for a long time. Even if they plan to join some other organization, the attractive benefits and the work culture will create a soft corner in employees’ hearts, holding them back from resigning.
Therefore, all the attractive benefits like paid company parties, the paid parental leaves, insurances, 401(k), daily office snacks, birthday cake cutting, and other services are informed to the employees to improve their overall satisfaction.
Significance 6: Straightway to put forward Employees Complaints
To ensure that whatever chaos happens within the organization status – the employer’s design policies related to the harassment or torture of employees. Any bullying or distressing act by colleagues, senior people, or even the CEO can be held to take strict legal action!
If such policies in the Employees Handbook doesn’t exist; then the employee will reach out to the external helping party like NGO’s, EEOC, DOL, or prominent lawyers who may destroy the name of the well-established company in the market, which further can trap the company under legal obligations for a long term or might be forever.
It can incur a high level of losses to the company. To avoid such mishappening, companies hire permanent lawyers to solve such grievances within the organization’s premises.
Which one is more effective – An employee Letter or a Staff Handbook?
In the court’s eyes, the Employee Letter and a Staff Handbook are seen as the joint contract or agreement that describes the employment relationship between the two parties, i.e., Employers and their staff members.
It also happens that the Staff Handbook is considered a step higher than the Employee Letter in some cases. Whereas, in another set of circumstances, the Employment Letter can play a significant role in the court, creating more impact than the Staff Handbook.
As per the NIC, – Justice B. B. Kanyip, ‘The employment letter circulated to all the company staff members in Nigeria is generally very short and crisp. It doesn’t extend more than one, two, or a maximum of three pages overall. Henceforth, some multiple terms and conditions shall go missing from the employment letter.’
Looking at the above statement, the court judge in Nigeria also claimed that Employee Letter might not be too relevant or required in the court for doing a fair judgment in the case the Staff Handbook is a genre with an employee containing all the terms and conditions for the employment of services between the employer and the employee of the company from tip to toe.
NIC in the Specomills Textiles also claimed that – ‘The basis of contract formed between the Nigerian based company employers and its employees is implemented via certain terms and conditions of employment, mentioned in the Staff handbook.’
Roles of Employee Handbook in the Nigerian Courts?
Nigerian courts operate a bit differently than other nations. Moreover, the role played by the Organisation’s Staff Policy or an Employee Handbook in the Nigerian courts is immense. So let’s deep dive into this matter to understand such court-related indulgence or affairs in the company’s Employee Handbook.
1. The courts there are based on justice, law, and equity.
2. Nigerian courts hold no foundation or restriction to enforce all the terms and conditions written in the Employee Handbook.
3. Two sections, namely Section 254C(1)(f), Section (h), and Section (2) falling under the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 & Section 7(6) falling under the National Industrial Court Act, 2006 were passed to give rise to the National Industrial Court within the Judiciary structure of Nigeria. Secondly, these two sections implemented in Nigeria also helped eliminate all the ongoing unfair practices related to the labor of Nigeria by introducing the beneficial labor jurisprudence.
4.In the Employee Handbook, if any written provision goes against the readymade provisions of the law or their set principles based on justice and equity, then the court holds all the authority to cancel or reject an employee handbook’s conditions without any further communication or discussion on this matter.
5. The existing Judiciary court laws for labor benefits in Nigeria are made to create a specific standard. This standard will be used as a benchmark for measuring all the relations or contracts built among the laborers and their employers.
Any company standards that have adopted the employee handbook policy, if found misleading, the labor court laws designed for works of Nigeria will be straightway declared as illegal and of no use.
Does an employer hold the authority to terminate the agreement with an employee for reasons mentioned in the Employee Handbook previously?
The obvious answer to the above mystery is a big yes. The employer holds the right and the power to dismiss the agreement with an employee by terminating him from the company. All the fundamental reasons that might lead to employee termination are stated in the Employee Handbook.
At the same time, it is handed over to the employees. Although, the employer still holds the authority to swipe the employee from the company at any point for a specific reason that is not written in the Employee Handbook earlier.
The service contract between the employer and the employee is made on the mutually agreed terms mentioned in the employment letter or an Employee Handbook. Regardless of his superior performance or punctuality, the employer holds the right to end the contract with him on a single day, asking him to leave the company without his consent.
There might be several hidden reasons for this, and the employer is not held accountable to state the reason for the termination at any point in time.
Powers that Nigerian employers hold for concerning alterations in the Staff Handbook:
The company’s employer holds a significant role and the power in implementing the required changes to the Employee Handbook terms and conditions as per their convenience and the business workflow. It would be best if you keep the following pointers on your mind while agreeing to the terms of the Employee Handbook –
1. Policies mentioned in the Employee Handbook are subject to change with time-based on various parameters like new technology adoption, business overall turnover value, existing and past losses or gains, ongoing market trends, forecasted future of the company, etc., for the general welfare of the company and its employees.
2. According to the law terms and conditions, – ‘Each new adoption of the policy or any other modifications, additions or deletions happening in the Employee Handbook after the approval from the higher management team of the company, must be informed to all the employees as soon as possible giving the legit reason for the same.’
3. The Employee Handbook is generally a result of the mutual agreement between the two parties, I.e., the Employer and the Employee. So, in such a case, all the changes or modifications made must be agreed upon by the employee on mutual terms. No employer has the right to impose new policies in mid of the duly signed agreement without the employee’s consent.
4. Suppose any employee or laborer has legit objections against the new modifications made in the Employee Handbook. In that case, he must leave or resign from the company to save himself from the recent changes made in the staff policy.
5. Failing to put the resignation notice within the right time after becoming aware of the new changes made in the Employee Handbook will lead to forcefully accepting the recent modifications made in the staff handbook for employees.
6. The employer is held liable to notify all the existing employees of the new revisions made in the 6. Employee Handbook. Such awareness among the employees can be created using the formal and informative email describing each further modification. The other way is to publish the new hardcopies of the Employee Handbook entirely to implement it in practice within some time.
The Employee Handbook outlines the inside and the outside of the company in an agreement letter and also, most companies adopt it, but 90% of the Nigerian companies keep it optional. In case of any dilemma that an employee finds in the Handbook, he may directly report the same to his supervisor. With the proper facts, terms, and conditions in place, his doubts will be prioritized and weighed against the existing company’s circumstances providing him the best alternative for the problem.
There might be a case where the supervisor isn’t able to satisfy the employee with his answers. In such a case, the employees shall directly schedule a one-on-one meeting with the employer designee to sort out the matter with utmost clarification.
Employee Handbook is made to prioritize the employee’s suggestions. feedback and welcomes his creative ideas that can reshape the company’s future. It is, subsequently, mandatory for the employer to provide it to an employee to speak his heart out on the issues.