10.5 Top Tips on How to Create an Employee Handbook

create an employee handbookIf you need to create an employee handbook, you can find all of the policies you’ll need on HR Docs Wizard. Feel free to add in and develop to the policy templates we have provided, so that the end document reflects your own culture and needs. We are always happy to support if you get stuck at any point!

Before we get into our top tips, it’s worth pointing out that the cost of not having a correct staff handbook in place can be considerable, it exposes the employer to multiple potential claims (sex discrimination, age, race, unfair dismissal) due to incorrect procedures. So, make sure you keep yours up to date!

But here are our Do’s and Don’ts when creating your handbook:


  1. Be clear on which policies are contractual and which policies are non-contractual. Consider splitting your Handbook into a part A and Part B so the contractual and non-contractual policies and procedures are clearly identified.
  2. Ensure your employment contract refers to the Employee Handbook as an integral part of the wider employment contract. And don’t forget to mention the handbook in other contracts you issue such as offer letters, fixed term contracts, zero hours’ contracts, temp contracts etc.
  3. Have a version number on your handbook so that if it is updated you are able to easily distinguish between old copies/old policies and newer ones. This could be crucial in an Employment Tribunal if you need to demonstrate which policy you were working to.
  4. Remember that it is a legal requirement to consult with your staff (or in some circumstances, staff reps) if you are changing any contractual aspects of the employment contract. You may need to give staff notice of your intention to implement your new handbook and during that period you need to be talking to staff about its contents ensuring you deal with any issues that are raised.
  5. Talk your line managers through what is in the contract and handbook. There is no point in having policies if managers are unsure how to manage staff in line with those policies, especially if there is a chance that different managers will have different standards/limits when managing staff.


  1. Ever issue a document to staff that is not written in plain English and easily understood by all. If you don’t understand the legalese, assume your staff won’t either.
  2. Seek to cover every possible eventuality and end up with a handbook that is excessive for the size of your company. 70 or 100 pages is not needed if you have just a few employees. Try to keep it simple and focussed.
  3. Worry if you issue a new handbook to some staff members and they fail to sign to say they have received, read and accepted it. As long as you have proof of giving it to them and can demonstrate they have not objected to anything in it, then you can assume that that handbook is now in place as a working document. A simple solution is to refer to the handbook in the contract and then they sign their acceptance to both when they sign the contract.
  4. Make your employment handbook unavailable to staff and managers. Everyone needs easy access to it to ensure policies and procedures are fully and consistently followed by everyone.
  5. Make it difficult to update your handbook, so you need to keep the style and formatting simple. At least once a year you should be reviewing and updating in line with changing laws, best practice and organisational needs. Plus, limit any consultation requirements prior to launching a new document to the contractual policies only (see bullet above re; contractual and non-contractual).

And Finally…

10.5 A handbook is supposed to be a document that makes life easier for both you and your managers. It should provide managers and staff with clear guidance on the procedures that will be followed and the standards that are expected. So, before you issue your handbook, just double check that your handbook is straight forward, fully accessible by all and that you have put some sessions in place to ensure your managers are fully up to speed with what is in the handbook and what their role is in ensuring staff are managed in line with your expectations.

Want to Create or Update Your Handbook?

Take a look at our policies section, if you’d like to create your own handbook. If you haven’t yet subscribed, we only charge £499 (ex VAT) annually for full, unlimited access for all of our letters, contracts and polices. Register here.

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