Do We Need an Employee Handbook?

July 14, 2013

An employee handbook is one of the most beneficial tools an employer has to communicate company policies and provide legal protection. The handbook brings clarity to employees by illustrating what is expected of them. This makes it more likely that they will meet performance standards. In addition, when an employee does something wrong, the employee cannot claim he/she was ignorant of company policy.

There are certain policies necessary to protect employers such as anti-harassment and anti-discrimination. Further, it is advisable to encourage employees to bring their complaints to their employer by using a specific internal grievance procedure.

Handbooks also make it easier for employers to communicate legally required information. Under the New York Labor Law, employers must notify their employees of sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and hours, and other policies in writing or by posting. Having a handbook allows the employer to maintain all of this information in one location and update it from time to time.


The best way to protect confidential information in the workplace is to provide employees with a framework of procedures and policies. Confidential information in the workplace includes examples of client records, business plans, employee personnel files, technological data, research and development strategies, financial information, marketing strategies and data, pricing strategies and vendor/supplier lists. Employers may incorporate their confidentiality policy into their employee handbook. In addition to the handbook, having the employee sign a confidentiality agreement is stronger and is a legally binding contract.

An effective confidentiality policy not only defines confidential information and non-disclosure rules, but it also provides a clear reporting procedure for when an employee suspects confidentiality has been breached. By designating a contact person to address such situations, the employer can ensure proper handling of the alleged breach and limit exposure of the information. Also, there are certain protocols for handling confidential information to include in the employer’s policy.

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