Employees (and a few employers) mistakenly treat their handbooks like employment contracts. In most states, employment without a contract is considered “at will.” In other words, you can generally dismiss any employee at any time for any reason. Your employee handbook can create a first line of defense against forfeiting this kind of control. Make sure it includes an attorney approved disclaimer clearly stating:
- All employees are hired on an at-will basis.
- Each person’s employment is for no specific term.
- Both the employer and the employee retain the right to terminate employment at any time.
- Nothing in the handbook should be construed as a contract or guarantee of continued employment.
- Practice history and philosophy (mission and vision)
- Orientation period
- Working hours and overtime authorization/pay
- Attendance standards and absenteeism/tardiness
- Paid holidays
- Vacation policy and eligibility
- Sick leave—paid and unpaid leaves of absence,medical disability, pregnancy disability
- Personal time off
- Civic responsibilities, jury duty, military leave
- Medical care provided by practice and employee payment policies
- Performance reviews
- Salary reviews
- Personal appearance, cleanliness, uniforms/dress code
- Personal activities on the job (Internet/e-mail, telephone, fund-raising)
- Harassment (general and sexual)
- Standards of conduct
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