What Must be Included in an Employee Handbook?

The employee handbook—it’s a set of expectations that everyone within the organization can follow. It’s a supervisory tool. It’s your “rules of the road.” It’s one of your best organizational protections and is the cornerstone of compliance and employee communications. Because of that, you should make sure that it is regularly updated; has required federal, state and local compliance language; and can be accessible by anyone in the organization, at any time.

Keep reading to find out a high-level overview of some of the items that need to be in every handbook, and download our eBook, The 30-Minute Guide to HR: A Quick Guide to Success in HR for the Busy and Confused, to get the “Should-Have’s” and “Nice-to-Have’s” checklists for handbooks.

Organizational Basics

  • Setting the stage for employment
  • Disclaimer
  • Handbook acknowledgement: Must be signed and dated by employee and placed in employee file by the employer

Legal Information

  • Equal Employment Opportunity statement
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act statement
  • Americans with Disabilities Act statement
  • Harassment Prevention
  • Employment At-Will

Time Off

  • Family Medical Leave Act statement (if you have 50 or more employees in locations within 75 miles of each other)
  • Managing required leaves of absence or time off


  • Confidentiality
  • Access to employee records

Managing Breaks

  • Lunches and breaks
  • Break time for nursing mothers


  • Proof of authorization to work
  • Employment status
  • Employment classifications
  • Overtime
  • Compensatory time (public entities only)

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