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Employers Beware!

Employers need to reduce their risk with a tailor made Employee Handbook.

Employee Handbooks are a vital tool for employers regardless of size. They can include policies and procedures dealing with all aspects of employment from induction to dismissal. They can contain behaviour policies such as capability, using social media, bullying and harassment, conduct outside work, alcohol and drugs and personal telephone calls amongst many others. They show both employers and employees how to deal with work related matters including disciplinary, grievances, maternity and parental leave, redundancy etc.

To be a good employer and retain your best talent you need to show your employees that you are looking after their well-being. By having a comprehensive, tailor made and up to date employee handbook you show that you are a caring employer.

Unlike contracts of employment, handbooks can be updated when required. They need to be reviewed regularly to avoid becoming out of date as far as employment law and best practice is concerned. An out of date handbook can be a liability as they could show that the employers’ employment practices are unlawful and out of date.

It is also important for employers to ensure that the handbook is communicated regularly to employees. It’s no good just putting it on a shelf in the hope that your staff will read it.

In a recent case, an employee had been sacked for sending personal messages during working hours on a work account of Yahoo Messenger. This contravened a policy, but the employee took the case to the European Court where it ruled the employer had contravened the Human Rights Act, Article 8, which provides for the right to a private and family life.

Employers must have robust policies on the use of computers and social media, so employees know to what extent they are allowed to send personal communications on company systems both in and outside work. They should also inform employees when their communications will be monitored, how often and why it is necessary.

Coulthard Human Resources can put together a tailor made handbook for your business, not matter what size it is. Remember that employment rights apply to all employers even if you only employ one person.

Nichola Coulthard, Couthard Human Resources


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