Employee handbook and company policies

​As your business grows, it becomes more important to have a staff handbook that sets out your policies, procedures, missions, and rules for employees.

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is an important document that all companies should have. Its main goal is to communicate your company’s values, policies, and rules to new and existing employees.

An employee handbook is also used to introduce new employees to your company, explaining who you are, how you do things, and what you expect from them in terms of behaviour and performance.

It’s best practice to give employees an employee handbook on their first day, or even earlier if you can. If possible, we recommend sending new employees a copy of the handbook along with a welcome letter as part of their induction process.

It’s important for business owners to ensure their employees are up to speed with all the things that make their business run smoothly and successfully.

With an employee handbook, all your business policies and procedures are in one easily accessible place. This makes it easier for your staff to understand things like how to report absence, their entitlements to sick pay, and how to request holiday.

As well as being a quick and easy reference point for employees, it saves employers time, too, as employees can find answers to business-related questions easily without needing help.

What are company policies and procedures?

Company policies and procedures give employees a well-rounded view of your workplace. They typically include a description of principles and responsibilities for managers and employees — outlining the company’s expectations succinctly.

In short, a policy refers to a set of guidelines that outline the company’s plan for tackling issues. Whereas a procedure is a plan for carrying out a policy — outlining how employees should deal with a specific situation and at what point they might need to take action.

A lack of company policies can expose your business to high-risk legal situations with employees. So, it’s vital to ensure that your procedures are legally compliant, and your expectations are officially documented and well communicated to your workforce.

There are many different types of policies that you might want to implement for your business. We are happy to explain the differences and walk you through the process from start to end.

What needs to go in an employee handbook?

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach for an employee handbook — and yours should be created specifically for your business. Employee handbooks vary in size and content, though they typically include the following:

  • Introduction and welcome note from the Leader(s)
  • Company background
  • Information on your culture and approach to business
  • Hours and conditions of work
  • Overtime and Time off in Lieu (TOIL)
  • Pay reviews
  • How to request holidays
  • Report absences
  • Employee benefits
  • Training and development
  • Process for performance and appraisals
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedure


  • Drug and alcohol policy
  • Equal opportunities policy
  • Flexible working procedure and family friendly policy
  • Bullying and Harassment policy
  • Compassionate leave
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave
  • Data protection policy
  • Whistle-blowing policy
  • Expectations around dress code
  • Social media, email/internet/mobile phone usage etc.
  • Equality and Diversity



Why choose The HR Dept for your employee handbook and company policies?

At The HR Dept, we write employee handbooks in plain English, reflecting the culture and style of your business.

It can be tricky knowing exactly what to include in your employee handbook. Likewise, where to begin when it comes to writing one.

At The HR Dept, we take the time to get to know you and your business, providing you with a unique handbook that reflects your work culture and values and meets the legal requirements.

As well as this, our HR experts are on-hand to support you in the medium and long term, too. It could be to help you update your handbook or add new policies — whatever it is, we’re here.

To see how we can positively impact your teams, contact us today.

Employee handbook and company policies FAQ

What is the purpose of an employee handbook?

The main purpose of an employee handbook is to set out work policies and procedures so that your employees are up to speed with how your business is run, along with all the necessities, such as information about reporting absences, maternity/paternity, bereavement leave, data protection and a lot more.

Employee handbooks are especially useful for new employees, as they can have a copy of the handbook and get a full rundown of your business, as well as answers to any business-related questions they may have.

Is an employee handbook a legal requirement?

Unlike the legal requirement to have a written statement of terms and conditions most commonly found in an employment contract, businesses aren’t required by law to have an employee handbook. 

Having said that, it is something that most businesses in the UK are implementing, and rightly so. Employee handbooks have huge benefits for both employers and employees, such as formalising policies, saving time, helping prevent legal disputes and making onboarding easier and simpler.

Can I write my own employee handbook?

Nothing is stopping you from writing your own employee handbook, though we advise against it. It is one of the many things in HR that’s better left to the professionals. 

Company policies included in an employee handbook need to be expertly drafted to ensure they meet the requirements of a company, as well as the legal requirements set out by the government.

What makes a good workplace policy?

There are several characteristics of a good workplace policy. You know when a policy is good when it has the following qualities:

  1. It is jargon-free and written using simple language.
  2. The procedures are well-defined. They should have clear instructions to indicate how the policy should be carried out.
  3. The policy should consider the benefits of the employees — the rules should be fair.
  4. It should be easy for employees to understand, making sure they can easily follow the rules.
  5. It should be totally restrictive. Where possible, the policy should give the employees options to give them a sense of ownership.

What are the common policies in a company?

The policies a company needs will vary, depending on the culture, legislative environment and also industry. However, these policies are must-haves for most companies:

  1. Code of Conduct
  2. Policy on Equality
  3. Policy on privacy and Data Protection
  4. Policy on Use of social media and the Internet
  5. Policy on Working Times, Pay, Absences and Holidays

Companies should always introduce policies based on company and job-specific risk assessment.

They should be regularly reviewed, and if necessary, new ones should be implemented when there is a change to the workplace or environment.

Do your policies protect your business?

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