Employee Handbooks for California Businesses

Custom Employee HandbookDoing business in California can be fantastic and frustrating at the same time. There are so many huge opportunities to explode in sales (if you are great at Wooing your Customers), but the labor regulations can sometimes overwhelm.  Rules. Rules. Rules. There are regs on OT, breaks, sick leave, discrimination, voting rights, and so much more.

As your company grows, you’ll reach a point when you realize it’s time to get more professional in how we’re handling our rules and policies. You realize that it’s time to get an Employee Handbook.

What are the benefits of an Employee Handbook? Besides offering some lawsuit protection, a handbook helps to get everyone “on the same page” when it comes to expectations, benefits, and potential consequences for failing to work as expected.

Other benefits to having an employee handbook are listed by the info blog HR Quick Answers:

Fairness in employment.  An employee handbook sets your employee policies and procedures in writing for your California business.   With a well designed California employee manual you will gain many benefits: 1) your HR policies will be clear and consistent, 2) you will lower the chance of misunderstanding or frustration among staff, 3) you will offer protection to the business, and 4) you will equip your supervisors with a good HR resource.  No matter what type of business you have, an employee handbook is an essential for getting your California employee policies in writing.

But that leads to the question of how do you get an employee handbook. Well, there are 3 main options in front of you:

1. Download a Template. Priced from $30 to $350, these templates will require you to invest many hours into personalizing the handbook to your state, employee count, and business specifics. Templates do NOT have typical industry-specific policies. A good template from the California Chamber of Commerce coasts about $250.

2. Have a consulting company design a customized handbook for you. Typical price is between $1,500 and $3,000. Pricing might seem high, but consider how many hours it would take one of your employees to create this from a good template (anywhere from 3-4 weeks of work). Even if the employee is only getting paid $10 per hour, it will cost you at least as much as it would hiring a consulting company, and the consultant will have quite a bit more experience at what should (and shouldn’t) be in that manual.

Customized Employee Handbooks

Church Employee Handbooks

3. Go to a labor law lawyer. This is by far the most expensive option, but you will receive a California employee handbook that considers all the legal intricacies of your business (though maybe not industry-specific policies). This is a good option for complex businesses concerned about employee lawsuits. Typical pricing ranges from $5,000 to $9,000.

Another option is to hire a lawyer to simply review a handbook you had designed DIY or by a consultant.

At New Wind, we design customized Employee Handbooks. We invite you to contact us for a complementary 30-minute Phone Consult, where we’ll talk about your business and what you want/need as written policies in an employee handbook. Schedule a consult now- it will only cost you 30 minutes of your time.

Contact New Wind

Why Have a California Employee Handbook?

Custom Employee HandbookAs a business owner or manager in California, you have to ask whether your organization needs an employee handbook.  How does it help me run the business?  What kind of businesses should have an employee handbook?

1. Avoid costly policy mistakes.  Having your employee policies in writing helps the boss(es) do the right thing.  Know when overtime begins, understand how vacation time is calculated, learn the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees, and so on. Does OT start at 8 hours and/or 40 hours?  Who qualifies to be salaried?  A California employee handbook would answer all those basic policy questions.

2. Stop employee claims of ignorance.  Employees will have your policies in writing, so they can no longer claim that they did not know breaks only lasted 10 minutes or that smoking is prohibited indoors. Do all of your employees know what your rules are?  When everyone gets a copy of the “rule book” they can no longer claim ignorance.  With a California employee handbook, your policies will be clear and consistent.

3. Written Policies help to defend against lawsuits.  Getting your policies in writing can help when someone claims you were discriminatory or unfair in your labor practices.  Does an employee handbook make you immune from court cases? Of course not, but having your policies well-defined and properly distributed to all employees can sometimes be a great aid when having to defend yourself.  An employee handbook offers protection for your business.

4. Get all your supervisors on the same page.  If you have more than one manager, then it can get confusing.  One boss might contradict another.  However, when everyone has the same written policy to refer to, then the confusion is much less.  You will lower the chance of misunderstanding or frustration among staff and you will equip your supervisors with a good HR resource.

What policies are typically included in a California employee handbook?  Expect a comprehensive handbook to be about 30-40 pages in length and to include the following rules and regulations:
+ at-will employment
+ non-discrimination
+ anti-harassment
+ vacation
+ sick leave
+ overtime
+ employee classifications
+ jury duty
+ smoking
+ social media
+ introductory period
+ leaves of absence
+ bereavement
+ pay dates
+ driving while on duty
+ parking rules
+ drug testing
+ dress code
+ employee conduct
+ termination
+ holiday pay
+ customer service
+ workplace security
+ confidentiality
+ and much more

Customized Policies– In addition to standard employee policies, some services provide customized policies for your specific business or industry. You may want to consider adding custom policies covering topics such as HIPAA, driving safety, money handling, hygiene, or telecommuting.

What is not included in a typical handbook?  A typical handbook does not cover job procedures, which are too intricate and job-specific.  Other topics not covered include  job descriptions, day-to-day work procedures, and so forth.

How do I get a California employee handbook?

You have 3 basic options for designing a staff handbook:

1. Do-It-Yourself. If you are going this route, we would recommend using a lawyer-vetted template or software program, such as the excellent one provided by the California Chamber of Commerce. Pricing starts at about $250, plus all the hours you’ll need to spend completing it.


2. Get Assistance. Hire a professional consultant to help you complete a software program, costing more but saving you dozens of hours of your precious time. Consultants aren’t cheap per-hour, but they can put a handbook together much faster than you ever could, so the actual cost might end up being less than if you take the DIY path.


3. Hire a Labor Lawyer. This is the ultimate level and is recommended for those who have concern of legal issues or complex labor relations, such as a unionized shop.