Employee Handbook Toolkit

Resources to help employers create, maintain and distribute employee handbooks.

Practical Law Labor & Employment

An employee handbook serves several important functions, including:

  • Explaining an employer's workplace expectations and potential consequences for failure to comply with the employer's policies and procedures.

  • Demonstrating an employer's compliance with employment laws.

  • Answering common employee questions such as how vacation time is accrued and when employees are paid.

  • Minimizing the risk of legal claims by encouraging resolution of workplace issues through internal complaint procedures.

Employers must take steps to ensure their handbooks are well-drafted, as a poorly drafted handbook can increase an employer's financial and legal exposure. For example, both unionized and nonunionized employers can violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act ( www.practicallaw.com/2-382-3640) (NLRA) by maintaining a policy that would "reasonably tend to chill" employees from exercising their rights under the NLRA. In addition, a court may view overly rigid disciplinary procedures as creating a contractual obligation on the part of the employer.

To create a legally compliant handbook, employers should:

  • Understand which federal employment laws apply to them.

  • Know how to draft written policies in compliance with applicable laws.

In addition, employers should adopt best practices related to maintenance and distribution of their handbooks to ensure employees are informed of the most current policies.

The Employee Handbook Toolkit provides several resources employers can use to create, maintain and distribute employee handbooks. It includes model policies that have integrated notes with important explanations and drafting tips. The model policies are organized like a typical handbook with suggested headings. For more information on organizing an Employee Handbook, see Practice Note, Employee Handbooks: Best Practices: Tips for Organizing a Handbook ( www.practicallaw.com/4-513-9448) .

Practice Note

Standard Documents

Pre-Employment Policies

General Employment Policies

Payroll Practices and Compensation

On the Job

Health and Safety

Time Away from Work and Employee Leave

Employee Handbook Acknowledgment

Standard Clauses


State-Specific Content

State-Q&A Guides










New Jersey

New York






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