It is helpful for employers to have a staff handbook of policies which set out the policies and procedures with which staff must comply to assist the running of the business and to reduce risks of misconduct or disruption. We can assist you with preparation and advice on your staff handbooks to ensure all you and your employees understand their rights.
What is a staff handbook?
An employer handbook or staff handbook is a collection of the various policies and procedures which apply to the smooth operating and functioning of the workplace. They regulate workplace conduct and can be used to manage any issues which arise. They can also be referred to when advising employees of their rights and entitlement for example annual leave and sickness absence. Policies can include:
- Grievance and disciplinary;
- Health & Safety;
- Training and Development.
- Equal opportunities;
- Stress at work; and
- Dress code.
If you are a small business, it is advisable to seek legal advice on your staff handbook to ensure it is appropriate for your business specific requirements and tailored to your workforce and working environments.
Do we have to have a staff handbook?
There is a minimum level of information that must be provided to employees in writing. This should be given in a written statement of terms under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act (ERA 1996).
Some information can be and is usually provided in a staff handbook. Where the information is not contained in section 1 statements, an employer is legally required to have the following policies in place:
- Disciplinary procedure (section 3 ERA 1996);
- Grievance procedure;
- Health and Safety Statement (section 2 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974);
- Information about pensions (section 3 ERA 1996); and
- Whistleblowing (UK Corporate Governance Code).
A staff handbook is not a legal requirement but it is helpful to have all of a company’s policies, practices and procedures, easily accessible one in place.
If there is a staff handbook, all employees should have access to a copy and should be informed of its existence when joining a company. This can be in hard copy or an electronic copy.
Are staff handbooks contractual?
If a staff handbook is incorporated into the contract of employment, it is held to be contractual and this should be made clear to employees.
It is more common practice for a handbook to be non-contractual which means it does not have to be agreed between employer and employee and cannot be negotiated. This also allows the handbook to be varied from time to time and kept up to date without employee agreement.
Fixed fee advice on employer staff handbooks
We can be instructed to prepare staff handbooks or advise on and update existing handbooks which are tailored to your business and working environments. Where suitable, we can agree a fixed fee for this work.
Book an Initial Consultation with a UK Employment Lawyer
If you are an employer, employee, senior executive, or HR professional and require advice on any aspect of UK Employment law, get in touch so our employment team can assess the legal merit of your case and provide you or your business with bespoke UK employment legal advice.
Please note that your legal rights may be subject to limitation and thereby irreversibly time-barred if you fail to take legal action or defend a claim in time, in particular for Employment Tribunal and Court proceedings. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice prior to taking any steps in the employment tribunal or court procedural process. Do not delay in seeking legal advice.
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