• Natalie Ellis

What is a company handbook, and why do I need one?


Why small business owners need to consider creating a company handbook


What is a company handbook and why do you need one?

As your business grows and you find yourself needing to establish principles and company rules, you might want to start thinking about establishing a company handbook.


What exactly is a company handbook?

A company handbook is a document used by companies to outline their expectations and rules around how the company works. It’s also a document that defines your company culture.


Depending on the company size, this can be a small document with just the basics but as your company grows the document will need to develop and evolve as employment law changes.


What goes into a company handbook?

There are certain employment policies, such as disciplinary and grievance processes that small business owners are required by law to put in place. Additionally, it's a great idea to have other policies included to address issues such as sickness absence, mental health at work and maternity leave.


Why is a company handbook necessary?

By having all of this in place, the company can clearly communicate to its employees its expectations of them (remember that the contract of employment works both ways). It also specifies the procedures to manage various situations that may arise. Having everything all in one place helps answer common questions, allows managers to manage and serves to protect the business from potential claims. It can also set the tone for the company culture as well as protecting the business by introducing consistency of treatment for all employees – and ensuring best practices are adhered to.


In addition, for those in regulated industries, such as the Financial Conduct Authority, any specific regulations can be included within the handbook.


No one-size fits all

Every business is unique, so it's essential that your employee handbook accurately represents your values and the way you intend to interact with your employees.


We tailor each of our handbooks to reflect the business we create them for, this is to ensure it isn’t just a document that is left to gather dust in a dark cupboard somewhere. These documents should be purposeful and be aligned with the business aspirations and culture.


Keep your company handbook updated

When GDPR was introduced in 2018, this changed how every business operates. Despite it being more than four years old, we still receive queries from employers who are unsure of what their obligations are.


Legislation around right to work has also changed and employers are required to conduct their checks accordingly. We’d strongly recommend that businesses seek advice if they need any support with this to prevent any hefty fines being imposed.


Mental health has become a big topic and employers are often left unsure of what to do if an employee has an issue with their mental health. We are increasingly asked by clients to create and include a mental health at work policy alongside guidance and training for managers.


Our recommended actions:

  • If you don't have a handbook in place, consider getting one written for you, this is one of our best selling services and whilst it's more cost effective, it is also legally sound as it's written by an expert.

  • Check out our HR Services for Small Businesses it's a free guide to HR services for small businesses. We can advise on what to include in your company handbook.

  • If you have an outdated handbook, it can be refreshed in a jiffy! Contact us and let us do the legwork for you!



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