What should be included in a Staff Handbook?

The Employers Pack contains a large number of documents - most of which you will use over time. However, we are frequently asked by start-ups, (or established organisations with no previous legal documents) what they should start off with as a minimum.
Please see our recommended list below:

1. Employment Contracts
Every employee should have an employment contract; we recommend the following:

Manual workers
The Short Form Employment Contract - should be used for manual workers or administrative staff.

Managers
The Long Form Employment Contract - should be used for managers and more senior staff, this is because this contract contains restrictive covenants. Restrictive covenants are used to protect an employer, where the employee has client contact and access to client details and sales. The covenants prevent an employee from using this information, should they leave the business.

Directors
Each director should have a Director’s Service Agreement. We would recommend these even for the smallest companies. Banks or outside investors looking to lend or invest will usually want to see that each director has a service agreement.

 

2. Policy Documents

  • Data Protection Policy
  • Equal Opportunities and Anti-Harassment & Bullying Policy
  • Flexible Working Policy
  • Grievance and Disciplinary Policy
  • Maternity & Adoption Policy
  • Parental and Paternity Leave Policy
  • Shared Parental Leave Policy
  • Sickness and Absence Policy

 

3. Additional & Optional Policy Documents
The following are optional policy documents that you can use as and when required.

  • Communications Policy
  • Redundancy Policy
  • Retirement Policies
  • Vehicle Policy, (this covers company cars and commercial vehicles).
  • Working Time Regulations 48-Hour Rule Opt-Out

 

4. The Minimum
It is important to remember this is the recommended bare minimum for any business. However, as the Employers Pack contains everything you need you can easily use the other documents and policies as and when you need them.

 

5. Updates
The CompactLaw Employers Pack is regularly updated - this is critically important. Employment law changes due to new employment cases being decided by the courts and the government introducing or amending current regulations. Also, technology can make changes in policy documents necessary. For example, the rise in artificial intelligence (AI) impacts the following policies: Data Protection, Communications and Cyber Security. As new technological advances become available, the risks of misuse increase too.

 

6. The Cost of Not Having a Staff Handbook
The following examples are from real-life situations we have been asked to advise on. The proper employment contracts and policies could have greatly reduced or avoided these issues.

1. The managing director of a window company contacted us. While he was away on his summer holidays, his sales director had set up in direct competition and had taken the entire sale team with him. The managing director returned to a business with no sales team, and most of his clients now with the rival firm. The sales director was on a six-figure salary, plus a generous bonus scheme, but he did not have an employment contract - the managing director has never bothered with it. None of the other sales teams had contracts, either. They could all walk away and set up a mile away and take all the business with them. Employment Contracts with Restrictive Covenants within the contracts would have prevented the sales director from taking employees, taking clients and setting up in competition around the corner. Even with the right contracts in place, if the sales director had still left, the managing director could have taken legal action based on breach of contract.

2. A long-time employee at a firm received an email supposedly from her boss, who was on holiday. The boss asked for money urgently transferred due to an "accident". In the email, the "boss" said that he did not have access to his company email and that the money should be transferred to the account listed in the email, which was supposedly a private hospital. The employee duly transferred the requested £15,000. The fraud was only spotted at the beginning of the next working week, far too late; the money was gone and was never recovered. Furthermore, the company was then subject to repeated attempts at further fraud from the original fraudster or associates. A proper Communications Policy and Cyber Security Policy would have reduced the risk of the employee falling for fraud as the policies outline this specific scenario in detail.

In the first situation, the business closed. The managing director decided to retire, but the business could not be sold as a going concern. The loss was very significant.

In the second situation, the employee left the business shortly after. The money was recouped by the business not having an office Christmas party that year.

The above real-life examples are fairly extreme. However, many businesses suffer issues, such as time lost dealing with problem employment situations, tribunal claims and compensation claims, mainly due to the lack of proper legal documentation, policies and procedures.

We would like you to purchase our products. But even if you do not buy from us  - please ensure that you have a proper Staff Handbook in place and used by your staff.