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How to Create an Employee Handbook

Updated: Apr 22

What should be in your employee handbook? In this article, learn the benefits of a staff handbook and which policies we recommend that you include.


Employee handbooks are often shared as part of the induction process with new staff to provide guidance and information on ways of working, rules and policies that relate to their employment.


There is no legal requirement to have an employee handbook, although organisations must make clear that disciplinary and grievance procedures are in place, even if they signpost staff to the ACAS statutory code rather than having a policy of their own.


Organisations must also be clear about what data is processed and on what basis which should be detailed in a Data Protection (GDPR) Policy or an Employee Privacy Notice.


For employers must 5+ staff, a written Health & Safety Policy is also mandatory.


Whistleblowing Policies may be required if you operate in Financial Services, or regulated activity.


There is no legal requirement to have any other policies in place, unlike the legal requirement to provide a written statement of terms and conditions of employment from day one.


So why do so many organisations have an employee handbook?

There are a number of benefits to creating and sharing an employee handbook:

  • A handbook ensures that policies and processes are applied and followed consistently.

  • A handbook reduces the risk of grievances, claims, and tribunal cases by reducing inconsistent practices amongst managers and staff, and setting out the organisation’s actions and steps that are in place to prevent discrimination, harassment, inequality of opportunities etc.

  • It manages employee’s expectations of treatment, benefits, and procedures.

  • It communicates culture, ways of working, and workplace values.


What should be included in a staff handbook?

Alongside Disciplinary & Grievance, Data Privacy and Health & Safety, a handbook is a suitable place to provide information about benefits such as pension scheme, private medical, death in service etc.


There are other policies that are recommend for all organisations, such as:

  • Managing Absence

  • Annual Leave

  • Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

  • Dignity at Work / Harassment


It can also provide an excellent opportunity to describe the culture by sharing the history, ethos, and values of the organisation.


A handbook should contain a note that the policies and procedures are non-contractual which enables an organisation to update and improve policies without formal consultation procedures.


What is the best way to share our handbook?

Many organisations have moved away from a printed version of the employee handbook and instead add it to a shared drive or intranet, or to the HR software system, or of course, it can be emailed to everyone. Using dated versions to ensure the latest iteration of the handbook is being referred to is important.


A series of separate policies can be saved in a shared file or uploaded to HR software if the organisation prefers to move away from one lengthy document.


How can I make sure staff read the policies?

You can ask employees to acknowledge receiving the handbook and indicate that they have read and agreed to the polices within it by signing a form or confirming by email that they have read and understood the contents.


This is particularly important if your handbook includes any contractual policies, or refresher training or content is required regularly.


How often should policies be reviewed?

Policies should be regularly checked and reviewed to ensure that they accurately reflect and changes in legislation, and the latest thinking and best practice, alongside changes within the organisation.


Remember that when you update any contractual policies, you will need to consult with staff and ensure that employees consent to amendments, whereas non-contractual policies allow updates to be made without specifically consulting staff in advance. Ensuring staff are aware of changes and referring to the latest version of your policies is key.


Still not sure where to start?

Why not get in touch to purchase an employee handbook template, or discuss having a bespoke handbook created to reflect your organisation’s policies and procedures?

Check out our other blogs in the series:

If you require any assistance, please get in touch via or call us on 01793 311937.

The content of our blogs is intended for general information and not to replace legal or other professional advice.

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