Today we’re looking at Employee Handbooks, and does anyone really read them?
You’ve been there… It’s the first day on the job and you’re asked to review and sign that you received or read the company’s employee handbook. Sure it’s fairly self-explanatory, the company rules, the standardized harassment forms, that heart felt Welcome message. We roll our eyes, sign away, and think – let me just get to my job, that’s why I’m here, right!
Employee handbooks can be and are often long, detailed, and specific. It’s not an employee handout, it’s a handbook! Book being the key phrase here!
While they may seem boring and routine, as an employee it is recommended you actually do skim it, and get familiar with specific sections that are relevant to your employment situation. If you’re a expecting parent or anticipate a life event coming up, knowing beforehand what the company’s policies are can be very helpful when these events do arise.
The employee handbook is a legal agreement between you and your employer. Granted employers must follow the proper state and federal labor laws… though an employee handbook can add to the standardized company policies such as dress code, benefits, personal reviews and records.
Early on after being hired into a new position. I personally recommend that you look at those specific topics in the company’s employee handbook, understand them, and ask questions.
It is not uncommon for a company’s handbook to be slightly out of date, or maybe a manager or department is not following a specific policy. If you catch this early enough, and ask in a way that “information seeking” and as a new employee you’re clarifying some aspect, this can go a long way in any future issues or disputes. For example, if there is a standardized policy about Reporting Tardiness, that to say you’re late for your shift.
This policy should be spelled out in the employee’s handbook, how to notify them, whom to notify, any disciplinary action, etc. Now, you might be working for a manager who has implemented his or her own Tardiness standard, which conflicts with the company policy. If you directly challenge this manager, about this conflict in policy, you may have a conflict with them. But it you keep the conversation neutral, by either inquiring, or quietly abiding by the handbook’s policy, if a dispute arises, following the handbook’s written policy will often keep you out of trouble
Now, one final factor about handbooks and employee records. Not all the burden falls onto the employer. Personal records are an employee’s responsibility. You are responsible for notifying HR of any name changes, or contact information changes. Not so much for a company to keep tabs on you, but rather for them to properly record this information for tax and payroll purposes