Employee Handbooks

A well-considered, well-crafted employee handbook is one of the most cost-effective ways to manage your risks as an employer.

Unfortunately, many employers fail to take full advantage of this opportunity to help employees understand the company's philosophy, their job descriptions and conditions of employment, the benefits available to them or the employment policies and procedures they are expected to follow. They also put themselves at greater risk.

At Benckendorf & Benckendorf, P.C., our lawyers provide advice and help draft effective employee handbooks for businesses throughout the central Illinois region. To discuss the needs of your business, call any of our three office locations or, contact us online to set up an appointment.

Employee Handbooks: The Basics

While there are any number of mistakes that can be made with regard to employee handbooks, most involve small details.

For instance, a poorly worded section on your rights to terminate or discipline an "at-will" employee can easily become a binding contractual promise that only allows you to fire that employee for "just cause" or unintentionally requires you to follow specific disciplinary steps before terminating their employment.

Other problems can arise if you try to create a comprehensive employee handbook that has everything in it and that explains everything in too much detail. It is essential that the handbook contain language providing that the handbook does not constitute part of an employment contract between the employer and the employee, and that the employer has the right to modify the book at any time. In addition, a number of issues should be addressed, such as issues involving drug and alcohol policy, full-time versus part-time employment, use of the computers for private purposes, equal employment issues, working hours, holidays and vacations, civic leave (which includes jury duty, and, if the employer is large enough, time to vote), and military leave, which is now a very significant issue, due to the need to fill positions for the National Guard and reserves, who may be gone for a substantial length of time, rules as to how long a job needs to be held open, what the employees' obligations are upon their return and other issues, Disciplinary policies and use of company vehicles, credit cards and cell phones, and dress policies should be covered. In addition, it is very important to have a strong sexual harassment policy in place and follow it in order to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to avoid a lawsuit.

Last, laws affecting businesses and employers change. Your needs as a business owner may change as well. For these reasons, it is also important to keep your employee handbook updated regularly.

We Do It Right. Our Clients Deserve It.

The bottom line: Our attorneys can help you to create a legally sound employee handbook that is consistent with both Illinois and federal laws, and that will provide you with maximum flexibility in administering policies according to your business needs.

To schedule an appointment — call any one of our three central Illinois office locations or contact us online.

Peoria: 309.265.0812 / Morton: 309.938.4296 / Eureka: 309-265-0812