Do you need to hire a lawyer to draft an employee handbook for your company? The short answer is yes. When you run a business that has employees, your employee handbook is one of the most important documents your business has. Like any important business document, an experienced Florida Business Lawyer should create it. Although technically you do not need to hire a lawyer to create an employee handbook for your company, not doing so is the easiest way to create a poorly drafted employee handbook that gets you in legal trouble shortly after you print it out.
Read on to learn why you should hire an experienced business lawyer to help you draft an employee handbook for your company.
Why Your Company Needs an Employee Handbook
Your company’s employee handbook is an essential document. In Florida, the majority of businesses that have 10 or more employees have (and need) an employee handbook. Although it is not legally required to have one, many human resources professionals recommend that all businesses that have employees do, as a company’s employee handbook fulfills many vital purposes. For one, your employee handbook provides an effective and convenient way to provide new employees with essential information about your company.
A company’s employee handbook also provides a method for you to communicate vital information about the history, values, purpose, philosophy, and goals of your company to all employees. In other words, employee handbooks give employers an opportunity to explain the real nature of their businesses to their employees. Why did you start the company? What are your company’s values? How is your company different from other companies in your industry? You can touch on these and many other related issues in your employee handbook.
In addition, a company’s employee handbook explicitly lays out information about how the company operates and typically includes codes of conduct, such as the company’s dress policies, as well as anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and disciplinary procedures, among many other things. Essentially, your employee handbook should provide information about your company’s work environment and culture. For instance, your employee handbook may lay out your policies regarding lunch breaks, work-from-home opportunities, workplace safety, break periods, etc. It can also include your company’s stance regarding communication among employees via telephone and email during work hours.
Hire a Lawyer to Draft an Employee Handbook for Your Company
As mentioned above, although you are not legally required to hire a lawyer to draft an employee handbook for your company, not doing so can severely affect the quality, effectiveness, and compliance of your handbook. Under Florida law, you are not even required to have an employee handbook; however, if you create and publish one (and you should), it will need to meet certain legal requirements, and the only way to ensure it does is to hire an expert who knows what those requirements are and can create an employee handbook that meets them.
Before you publish your handbook, you must be certain about the potential legal implications of the statements it includes. Under Florida law, employers cannot make certain statements. For example, a statement such as “you must respect the company at all times” will not pass legal scrutiny because the wording implies that the company is forbidding any form of criticism, which would be illegal.
Another example would be a statement such as “you cannot discuss any information related to the company or its customers with anyone.” This particular statement would need a modification, as it is too broad. It needs to communicate a specific policy against sharing the company’s confidential information, instead of all information.
These are just a couple of examples that illustrate the need for you to have your employee handbook drafted or reviewed by an experienced Florida Business Lawyer. If you do not hire a lawyer to draft an employee handbook for your company or review the one you have drafted, you could end up publishing a handbook that includes illegal policies, which could have severely negative consequences for you and your company.