Many kitchen and bath firms, when asked, will state: “No, we
just have never had time to develop a policy for our employees.”
However, once you hire an employee, you have an employee policy,
because every decision you make regarding an employee establishes a
The danger for all of us is that our employee policy develops in
such a haphazard, uncoordinated way that it eventually traps us
into inconsistent positions with our employees. This, in turn, can
lead to misunderstandings and hard feelings at best and lawsuits at
WHERE TO BEGIN
Most employee policies are a
blending of the laws and common sense. A good place to start with
the legal aspects of your policy is your State Department of Labor
and Industries (the agency that handles workman’s compensation in
your state). It’s usually this agency that deals with work hours,
minimum wages, safety rules and compensation for work-related
Other places to look include your peer groups and trade
associations. Often, these groups or other businesses will have a
“template” policy that you can use as a starting point instead of
“reinventing the wheel.”
Armed with this basic information, you are now ready to begin
assembling your own company employee policy. Let’s look at the
basic areas that it should cover.
The following, though not
all-inclusive, should provide a starting point to construct an
employee policy. Each section has been assigned a numeric heading,
which allows you to insert future additions or modifications.
1.00: Definition of Employment
of the construction business is that a great deal of flexibility is
needed in dealings with employees. The key to maintaining this
flexibility is to have policies that treat each classification
consistently and fairly.
You may wish to have a probationary and permanent classification
for employees and, in addition, a temporary classification. Since
other policy issues, such as benefits, vacations, etc., may differ
for each group, these employee classifications must be defined
carefully at the start.
It is advisable to define all employees as “at will” employees,
reserving the right to terminate any employee with or without
cause. If your policy does not specifically state this position,
you may be open to wrongful termination charges.
2.00: Conditions of Employment
section, the policy should cover various aspects of working
conditions and expectations that the company has of its employees
and what the employees can expect of the work environment.
Some of the things to be covered here are attendance, scheduled
working hours and what to do if someone is going to miss work. It
should also cover scheduled work hours, as well as the policy
toward flextime and/or “comp” time.
3.00: Payment and Promotion Procedures
this section, you should detail the timing of pay periods,
procedures for time cards and when pay days will occur in relation
to the end of pay periods. You should also establish your position
on pay advances in this section.
The company’s procedures for reviewing employee performance and
adjusting salaries and wages should be explained in some detail
here. It is important to indicate the timing of reviews so that
employees know what to expect. Though it may seem obvious, it
should be pointed out that “each employee will be paid according to
their contribution to the company relative to all other
In this section, you should also cover what happens when an
employee leaves the company’s employ. Likewise, you should detail
what happens when a previously employed person returns to the
4.00: Time Off From Work
There are several
separate reasons that employees are off from work, and the company
should address each of the following:
Holidays: Define which holidays will be observed and the date
they will be observed (an actual holiday schedule will be published
at the beginning of each year).
Vacations: Define who is eligible for vacation and how much each
year. Detail whether vacation time can be carried over from year to
year, and if so, how much.
Sick Leave: Detail who is eligible for sick leave, and for how
much. Also note whether sick leave can be carried over from year to
year, and whether sick leave can be used for any other purpose
Weather: Note whether employees will be paid if they cannot
reach work due to inclement weather or other such conditions.
Leave: There are several situations that should be addressed in
this section, including, but certainly not limited to, military
service, maternity, jury duty and funerals.
5.00: Personal Conduct
This area is
probably one of the most important and sensitive areas that you
will cover in your employee policy. It is here that the
expectations regarding how you expect employees to act and react to
circumstances that can affect your company are spelled out.
Detail issues regarding personal business, alcohol and illegal
drug abuse, smoking and tobacco, job-site conduct, grounds for
dismissal, sexual harassment, gratuities from suppliers,
contributions and solicitations, employee use of company assets,
and employee purchases.
6.00: Employee Benefits
There may be many
areas of benefits that should be described here briefly, with
detailed descriptions contained in more complete plan documents for
the company’s group health program and any savings and retirement
At the end of the policy document, make sure that there is a
provision for the employee to acknowledge that he or she has
received, read and understood the policies set forth.
This outline is not an exhaustive recipe for developing an
employee policy, but rather a place to begin. It is important that
you do this carefully and consult with the appropriate
professionals to ensure that the policy conforms with the various
legal requirements that impact employer/ employee relations.