All businesses have policies and procedures that employees need to follow. Part of ensuring that your employees follow them is making sure they are aware of your company’s specific rules and have access to them. The best way to do that is to provide each employee with a copy of your company’s policy manual.


A policy manual is a formalized human resources document that presents a broad overview of standard operating policies and procedures for an organization.

What Is a Policy Manual?

This essential document provides structure and establishes consistency and discipline in decision making and employee behavior.

Policy and procedure manuals should be all-encompassing and contain all vital rules set by your company. A policy manual should not just be written offhandedly. It should be a collaborative effort with your human resources department after careful consideration and vetting. It can be helpful to consult with a legal professional when drafting your company policies and procedures to ensure you comply with the law.

Your policy manual can be as long as you need it to be to include all the necessary information. If it’s getting a little too cumbersome, you might want to consider housing it online where all employees can access it as needed. Policy and procedure manuals are living and breathing documents that are important for you to run a successful business. They often change over time as your company changes.

Why You Need Policy and Procedure Manuals

Policy manuals offer many organizational benefits, beginning with the company-wide communication typically involved in the development process. Once created, manuals offer a formal method for making HR decisions that are consistent, well planned and systematically linked to organizational goals.

Policy and procedure manuals lay out how you expect your employees to behave and the level of professionalism you expect. It lets employees know exactly how things are run at your company and what they can expect in certain areas. It also ensures that all employees follow the same set of rules and work more cohesively. In that way, you can more easily manage and discipline conduct that you find unacceptable.

You can also better protect yourself as the employer against any claims of discrimination. If an employee is disciplined or fired for clearly breaking a set company policy, it’s going to be hard for the employee to claim discrimination.

What to Include in a Policy Manual

Policy and procedure manuals include everything from the company dress code to the holiday schedule to use of social media at work. Other rules that are included in a policy and procedure manual include:

  • Paid time off and sick days policy
  • Workplace safety procedures
  • Internet and email policy
  • Use of company property policy
  • Payroll policy, including overtime and breaks
  • Discrimination and harassment policy
  • Substance use policy, including drug testing
  • Bereavement, jury duty and maternity/paternity leave policy
  • How workplace disputes are handled
  • Discipline policy
  • Privacy policy

The specific policies and procedures that you include in your manual can vary depending on the type of industry in which you operate. For instance, if you have a health care company where employees regularly interact with clients, you may include a policy about protecting client information and another about the protocol for interacting with clients.

Employee Acknowledgement of Policies

As with any documents that you give employees, have them sign an acknowledgement that they have both read the policies and understand them. Be sure to keep a copy of this acknowledgement in their personnel file. If it’s helpful, have regular employee training on your policy manual so everyone is on the same page and can get any questions answered. When you update or add a policy, be sure to inform your staff.