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Business law advisors recommend employee handbooks

Owners of Wisconsin small businesses with few employees may feel it is superfluous to have an employee handbook. After all, the atmosphere is often less strict, and the employees have access to the owner if questions should arise. However, business advocates recommend that employers of even a single worker would reduce the potential for business law disputes by providing their employees with clear guidelines and expectations through an employee handbook.

Simply having policies in a written format for easy referral sets boundaries for employees and offers business owners a way to ensure they are treating all workers in a fair and consistent manner. A handbook can include the company-wide policy for vacation and sick days, absenteeism and lateness, dress code, and a code of conduct. A handbook can also reassure employees that their employer will deal quickly and harshly with workers who engage in harassment or discrimination on the job.

A written handbook should be readily available to employees, and business owners would be wise to obtain signatures from employees after they receive their copies. Once the handbook is established, it is critical that owners and managers abide by its policies. Anytime a policy change is instituted in the company, forgetting to update the handbook places an owner at risk of a lawsuit.

To ensure a handbook covers every essential element, many Wisconsin business owners ask an attorney to make a careful review. A skilled business law attorney will know if the handbook uses precise legal language that is clear enough for employees to understand what is expected of them. Seeking advice from an attorney at this early point in the creation of a business also gives an owner the chance to build a relationship with an attorney that will serve him or her well for the lifetime of the business.

Source: thebalance.com, "Does My Business Need an Employee Handbook?", Jean Murray, March 18, 2018

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