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Don’t Risk It!

Most small businesses eventually hire an employee; most often, it is a casual “hiring”. The new employee is looking for an opportunity and the business owner wants to grow the business. After an interview and perhaps a few reference checks, the new employee is hired and “told” a job description and then work starts.With most small firms that I have worked with, a common thread existed; a lack of an office policy manual. Even with only one employee, the owner must now set the standard for future growth. The office policy manual should be completed before the first employee is hired.

While there are many examples of office policy manuals ( another business owner, the internet, books, etc) I believe that whatever source you use to establish you own policy manual, you should run it by your attorney.

The following are highlights of what a good policy manual should contain:

  • office hours, starting and ending time.
  • time off, including sick days, vacation days, personal days, holidays, and family time.
  • Overtime
  • dress code if necessary
  • personal use of the telephone, computer, copy machine, etc.
  • disciplinary procedures
  • performance evaluations
  • customer treatment in the office, on the phone
  • off site education and in house training to be offered at the expense of the firm
  • tools that the firm may provide; i.e. cell phone, personal computer, etc.

Your attorney may suggest other documentation such as your client base. A departing employee should agree not to take names of clients with him.

There are many variations to office policy manuals; as a small business owner you don’t need to create a 200 page volume. The basics mentioned  above are a good starting point. As your business grows you will no doubt have to add more the your policy manual, but for the time being, just work with your attorney to cover the basics.

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