Printable Employee Handbook Templates [Word, PDF]

free employee handbook template 16

An employee handbook template is used by companies or organizations that contain relevant information about the company. It acts as a reference for employees that have questions about the policies and procedures of the company. This document should contain everything that employee needs to grow and develop well in the company.

Purpose of employee handbook:

The main purpose of employee handbook is to give clarity to the employees about what the company expects. You have to clarify these expectations to the employees so that;

  • You can see in the employee handbook examples that they have a lot of significant information written in them. Hence, employee can’t say that they didn’t know when they did something wrong. You can use this document as evidence of wrongdoing to fire an insubordinate employee.
  • It is considered as official documentation of the company. However, it isn’t as powerful as an employment contract but it can protect you in legal battles. For instance, when employee sues you for wrongful termination.
  • When issues arise, it acts as a baseline so that you can begin a dialogue with your employee. For example, when the employee needs to take some time off due to some personal issue then you can ask him to follow the leave procedure by using handbook as a reference.

The employee handbook forms the structure of your company policies. It should be made clear so that everybody’s on the same page. If all the rules, guidelines, and policies are documented properly then employees surely follow them.

What to include in an employee handbook?

Let us discuss below the basic information that should be included in an employee handbook;


Employment basics:

It is the most informative part of handbook as it contains all of the basic information related to employment. It explains the employees the terms written on their contracts and their job classifications. Employees can see this section in case of any question. Moreover, you should include the following information here;

  • Different types of employment contract
  • Details about equal opportunity employment
  • The recruitment process
  • The basic attendance rules

Workplace policies:

Demonstrate your workplace thoroughly. Discuss about all of the terms and conditions that your employees work in. include relevant policies to encourage a pleasant and lawful environment in your office. However, you can customize your handbook and include any other information which you think you require. The basic information to include in this section is;

  • Data protection and confidentiality
  • Violence and Harassment
  • Workplace Health and Safety

Code of conduct:

In this section, you have to give your employees an entire framework to base their behaviors. Draft an outline of how you expect your employees to treat each other whatever the relationship between them. This section helps you in establishing a professional and safe work environment for all of your employees. Include the following basic information;

  • Dress code
  • Digital devices and cyber security
  • Dealing with Conflict of Interest
  • Fraternization and Employee Relationships
  • Employment of Family Members and Relatives
  • Visitors in the Workplace
  • Distribution and Solicitation

Development and compensation:

It includes the compensation and rewards that you give your employees for all the hard work they do. State that how you make a strategy to assist your employees develop and move forward in their career. Employees will feel motivated by seeing this information and then they keep doing their best all the time. This part contains the following information;

  • Payroll and compensation status
  • Performance management
  • Employee development and training programs

Perks and benefits:

Usually, employees don’t know about the perks and benefits offered by their company. Therefore, including this information is important for the benefit of your employees. Make sure to include the following information;

  • Work compensation
  • Work from home option
  • Daily living expenses
  • Company car
  • Parking privileges
  • Things issued by the company

Working hours, vacations and Paid Time off (PTO):

It is the most important section in the handbook. This is because employees always want to know about their working hours and how much free time they have. Make sure to include the following;

  • Working hours
  • Paid time off
  • Sick leave
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Parental Leave
  • Holidays
  • Voting and jury duty

Employee resignation and termination:

In the end, discuss details about when employees leave the company. These details are important in order to make the termination and resignation processes with discipline. Discuss the details about;

  • Progressive discipline
  • Termination
  • Resignation
  • References

What not to include in your employee handbook?

You shouldn’t include the following things in your employee handbook;


Jargon and legalese

You should make use of common language to make sure that your employee handbook is understood easily.

The processes and procedures of company

For all employees, your handbook should work as an onboarding document instead of including individual job descriptions.

Benefits information

Update your benefits, providers, plans, and coverage options every time when they are updated. It would be recommended to link to additional benefits details and give a contact for questions.

Legally-prohibited restrictions

You should make sure that your policies and employee handbook don’t breach employee rights.

How to write an employee handbook?


A well-drafted handbook always begins with a good outline. You can also download a sample employee handbook as a reference if you don’t know where to start. Moreover, you have a well understanding of the company, its culture, its mission, and vision for writing it manually. Every handbook examples are different but they typically share a number of identical properties;

  • They are informative. It means that they have all the basic information. It has all of the policies and procedures of the company.
  • Don’t use technical terminologies and jargon, make them easy to read and interesting. So, use simple wording that’s easy to understand.
  • They are designed in such a way to display the entirety of the company accurately. Provide all of the relevant information by keeping the tone light and fun.

Difference between employee handbook and employment contract:

There are a few important differences between an employee handbook and an employment contract;

  • An employment contract is legally binding while employee handbook specifies various company legal policies.
  • Employment contracts apply to the individual employee who signs it and the employee handbook is for all company employees.
  • The employment contract specifies the legal rights and obligations of the employee, on the other hand, the employee handbook includes guidelines, policies, expected behaviors, and procedures.

Who requires an employee handbook?

Companies require an employee handbook to indicate the expectations of all staff members in a standardized way. They provide the company a platform to share their culture, values, and mission with its employees. They allow the company to build standards of accountability and give a resource for employees about their benefits, perks, and more.

Employees without having a written handbook can’t understand their benefits. Thus, they may not take advantage of all you offer as a company. By having this handbook, it becomes difficult for the employee to claim ignorance in question if they misbehave.


In conclusion, an employee handbook template should be well-documented and contain the mission, vision, expectations, and policies of the company. It clearly explains the employees about what the company expects of them. You should also keep changing and updating it. In addition, keep it on updating with the local, state, and federal laws.

Faqs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is employee handbook legally binding?

Employee handbook isn’t a legally binding document. However, it serves an extension of the employee contract.

Is signature required on an employee handbook?

No, it isn’t required by the law. But, the handbook contains the company’s policies and guidelines so it would be recommended to receive a signed acknowledgment from employees.

How often should you update the employee handbook?

It is best to update your employee handbook annually. Additionally, keep up to date on employment law to protect both yourself and your employees.


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