What is the difference between Employee Handbook and Policy Manual ?

An employee handbook is a document that contains information about the procedures, guidelines, regulations pertaining to a company in a concise manner. Employee handbooks are provided to new employees to help them better understand the company and its policies. It helps the employees understand the expectations the company has from them and the benefits and other perks the company offers them. Care should be taken in drafting this document as wrong or incorrect statements and claims can lead to legal complications later on.

The quantity of information contained in the employee handbook should be optimum. It should not be excessive to the point of confusing the employee. If there are other documents which deal with insurance and retirement planning, there is no need to mention the information over again in the handbook.

Some of the areas that can be addressed in an Employee handbook are:- 

- A welcome statement which contains a brief mention of the history of the company, its mission and its goals and objectives. 

- Details about the orientation procedure. This involves completing forms related to income tax, proof of identity and eligibility etc. 

- Defines full and part-time employment and the benefits pertaining to each classification. It can also include information about timekeeping and daily breaks. 

- Details about the pay and other perks such as insurance etc. 

- Expectations and guidelines relating to discipline such as policies applicable for alcohol and drug abuse, sexual harassment and the grounds on which an employee can be dismissed.

- Procedures for employee performance reviews etc 

- Rules on use of facilities such as telephone, email, internet etc 

- Procedures for resignation and exit interviews.

The Policy manual is a book containing the human resources policies. It is primarily aimed at all the employees. It is known that clear policies promote consistency and create a transparent atmosphere. It also eliminates the need for periodic memos and circular explaining the organizations’ policies. These days, the policy manual is available on the website for all employees. This aids easy updating and dissemination. It develops understanding between the employees and the management and between the employees themselves. It establishes and reinforces the established line of authority.

Another important use of the policy manual is legal in nature. A well written policy manual that is unambiguous in explaining company policy is a safeguard against lawsuits.

The difference between an employee handbook and policy manual lies principally in the scope. The employee handbook is concerned with describing the company, its strategy, its goals and objectives for the new employee. The policy manual is devoted to the HR aspects of the company containing the rules, benefits, regulations in place and helps the employee understands the expectations and the framework of rules he must operate in.