Review Your Employee Handbook

When Should You Review Your Employee Handbook?

Review Your Employee Handbook.
This page was first published on 1 June 2014. The last update was on 9 May 2020.

Your Employee Handbook is a vital document during the induction and probation periods of new employees. It provides an essential guide to working at your company and introduces your new employees to your culture and values. The importance of the Employee Handbook continues throughout the employees’ period of employment with you. When it will be the first place the employee turns to for information about everything from company policies to benefits and housekeeping arrangements. Your Employee Handbook should support your Section 1 Statement by setting out how employees are expected to conduct themselves, who they can turn to if they need support, and what they can expect from you as their employer. It’s important therefore that you review your employee handbook.

Your employee handbook helps employees, new and old, it should therefore be shared and referred to often, rather than gathering dust on a shelf.

Why You Need To Regularly Review Your Employee Handbook

Many business owners I speak to have an employee handbook but it sits on a shelf gathering dust. Unfortunately, an out-of-date employee handbook that doesn’t align with current workplace conditions or current employment legislation is irrelevant to everyone.

You are also unable to enforce new policies or hold anyone accountable if a new or updated rule is broken. You can’t discipline an employee for breaking a rule or policy if they didn’t know the rule or policy exists!

One aim of your employee handbook is to save you time answering simple and repetitive questions. When your handbook becomes out of date or information is missing your employees can’t find the answers they need, so those questions start been directed to you. Worst still employees talk amongst themselves, and you’ll begin to feel like you’re in the middle of a game of Chinese whispers. An out-of-date employee handbook will also cause confusion among employees as to which rules exist and are enforced. Answering questions off the cuff can result in employees receiving different answers to the same question, which could potentially lead to accusations of unfair treatment.

An up-to-date employee handbook will mitigate risk by clearly outlying all rules, policies, and procedures and your entire staff will be aligned with your company’s mission and culture.

When You Need to Review Your Employee Handbook

The world of work is constantly changing. Covid-19 is a great example of extreme change we all had to face and learn to live with. But even without Covid-19, employment legislation is constantly evolving, and your HR policies can easily get out of date.

Key Employment Legislation Changes

Key employment legislation that has changed in the last few years include:

  • Parental Bereavement Leave – introduced for parents who experience the death of a child in April 2020.
  • Section 1 Statement – changed section 1 statements became a day one right and the essential content was expanded in April 2020.
  • Holiday Pay – changed the reference period used for calculating a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes was increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks in April 2020.
  • Zero Hours Contracts – changed following the ban on the use of exclusivity clauses in January 2016.
  • Shared Parental Leave – introduced for mothers and fathers of babies due on or after 6 April 2015.
  • Adoption Leave – changed to mirror Maternity Leave and Pay in April 2015.
  • Maternity and Paternity Leave – extended to allow fathers to attend ante-natal appointments in October 2014.
  • Flexible Working – extended to all employees from June 2014.
  • Parental Leave – extended to 18 weeks in March 2013.
  • Paternity Leave – changed by the introduction of Additional Paternity Leave in April 2011.
  • Retirement – removed by the Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations April 2011.
  • Bullying and Harassment – changed by the Equality Act October 2010.
  • Absence – changed by the introduction of the Fit Note in April 2010.
  • Discipline and Grievance – changed by the introduction of the New ACAS Code of Practice in April 2009.

If any of these policies have not been updated since the associated legislation was introduced, changed or extended then a review of your Employee Handbook is overdue.

Current Content Is No Longer Fit for Purpose

Your business will also evolve and some of your HR Policies will no longer be fit for purpose. For instance, the simple absence policy you implemented when you recruited your first employee may no longer be suitable now you employ 50 employees. Also, as your business grows those basic starter policies that reflect the statutory entitlement may no longer be enough. For instance, you may be wanting to introduce new policies such as dress codes, employee dating, energy conservation, flexible working arrangements and gifts and hospitality.

Common reasons why your employee handbook may need an update include:

  • Changes to, or introduction of new, industry regulations;
  • Changes to your company structure or management and the roles and responsibilities of your management team;
  • Opening new premises in different locations with different terms and conditions;
  • Introduction of new company policies to better reflect your mission, brand, or culture;
  • Changes to security arrangements;
  • Introduction of new working practices such as flex hours or remote work;
  • Changes to processes that require revisions to, or introduction of new, policies;
  • Events that impact your handbook such as grievances or tribunal decisions and
  • Updating language and terms used to keep the wording universal.

Additionally, you may need to make small cosmetic updates, such as a change in company leadership or simply correcting typos.

How I Can Help You

I will review your existing Section 1 Statement and Employee Handbook for compliance with employment legislation. I will provide a written report detailing which sections of your documents are out of date because legislation has changed and therefore putting your business at risk. Included in my report will be any general observations I have about ways to improve the user friendliness of your Employee Handbook.

If any of your policies are no longer fit for purpose, let me know why they aren’t working, and I will make suggestions for improving them. If you want to introduce new policies let me know what they are and what you want to achieve.

My written report will confirm the fees and anticipated timescales should you wish me to proceed with the updates I have described.

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To ask me to review your Employee Handbook and Section 1 Statement, simply complete the form below and click the submit button.