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What is an employee handbook? What is the point of it? What can be arranged by such a handbook? And how do you make sure that the employee handbook applies to all your employees?

By Jan Dop, LL.M.
Russell Advocaten, B.V.
Amsterdam, Netherlands 

What is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook contains (house) regulations and employment related rules and conditions that apply within a company. In addition, the core values of the company can be included in an employee handbook. An employee handbook applies to all employees and can be considered as an addition to their employment contracts. The employee handbook is also referred to as staff regulations, office manual, code of conduct, staff policy, or company regulations. 

Why an Employee Handbook?

There are a number of reasons why you, as an employer, should use an employee handbook, such as:

  • An employee handbook creates clarity on what is accepted within your company and what not.
  • An employee handbook creates unity and prevents discussions and/or arbitrariness as the stipulations included in the handbook apply to all employees.
  • An employee handbook gives the opportunity to introduce regulations.  Regulations must be provided in writing and an employee handbook is a good document to include all regulations.
  • An employee handbook will ensure you will be in a stronger position in a potential dispute with an employee.

What is Regulated by an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook contains arrangements applying to all employees. In principle, you are free to determine what will be included in the handbook. In such a handbook you can, for instance, regulate the following matters:

When Does an Employee Handbook Apply?

It is advisable to have employees sign for approval the employee handbook upon employment and to refer to the handbook in their employment contracts.

If your business has more than 50 employees, for establishing or changing certain matters in an employee handbook the consent of the works council is required.

More Information

Do you need help in drafting, changing or checking an employee handbook? We will gladly assist you!