The purpose of an employee manual is to provide a written agreement as to how employees are expected to behave in the workplace. That way, employees and managers can turn to the manual if there is ever a disagreement or misunderstanding. Though the specifics of employee expectations differ from shop to shop even within the retail industry, your manual should include the following considerations.

Address employee grooming. This includes uniform particulars as well as personal care such as hair and facial hair. It should also include some wording about body odor so any conversation about it points to policy rather than an employee's personal habits.

Address employee behavior. Though it seems obvious that employees should behave "professionally," it's best to include specific examples. Sadly, you cannot assume that anything will be obvious. Spell out that employees are expected to arrive on time to work and address a specific procedure for calling in sick.

Address cash handling and reconciliation procedures. In many retail businesses, this is the area where you'll have the most cause for discipline and termination. Write these procedures very clearly and update them every time you find a hole in the system.

Address inventory control procedures, including procedure for suspected employee theft. These procedures should include an initial or signature every time an inventory item is moved from one point to another. Examples include from delivery to the stock room, from the stock room to display and when the item is ultimately sold.

Include a copy of every employee job description for easy reference by employees and management alike. You may also want to include your company's organization chart in this section.

Address basic compensation and benefits information. This may or may not include typical salary ranges for starting employees in various positions. If you have a commission structure, it should definitely be included here. Also include a basic outline of other employee benefits information such as insurance eligibility and retirement plans.

Include a copy of your discipline policy. Employees must have been shown the procedure for when an employee doesn't abide by the manual. This section is among the most important for avoiding or beating lawsuits from disgruntled former employees.


Employment law is complex and has severe penalties for mistakes. Have your lawyer check your employee manual, and listen carefully to any changes he suggests.