An employee handbook often gives information to employees about what they can expect at the company and gives them instructions on how to act both when things are fine and when there are problems. For instance, it may lay out a dress code that has to be followed or explain a three-strikes firing policy. It ensures that employers and employees are all theoretically on the same page and understand their relationships to one another.
But does a company have to have it? Is there a law saying that a handbook is necessary for a company?
There are no legal obligations
As far as having a handbook is concerned, there are no legal obligations or laws requiring it. Every employer has the right to simply decide on their own if they’d like to use one or not. If a company chooses not to have one, that’s fine. There are no legal repercussions and employees cannot demand it.
That said, if there is a handbook, then there is certainly a legal obligation to follow it. Employers cannot violate their own rules.
For example, perhaps an employee is technically an at-will worker, so they can be fired at any time. If the handbook says that all employees will be given a warning before being fired, the employer has to do so, even though there is no legal requirement to have that rule in the first place. Once it exists, violating the policy could count as wrongful termination.
Understanding complex business situations
These types of issues can get very complex for employees and employers alike, and it’s important for all involved to know where they stand and how to proceed. When a company is growing, it’s important to proceed carefully. An experienced attorney can offer invaluable insights and direction on nearly every aspect of the process as you scale up.