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Small Company Requirements

My company has 3 employees. It is new and informal as we have all worked together the last 10 years (rules are implicit). As the manager of the office, I would like to make sure we comply with everything, especially if we add someone new. Must there legally be an employee handbook and if yes, do we have to have all sections (as in the templates found online)? A lot of material in them seems a little much for the 3 of us. Also, I cannot find what the laws are for disability leave when there is less than 5 employees. Thanks for any help!

There is no law that requires employers to have a formal employee handbook. The purpose of a handbook is to inform employees of the company’s vision, mission, policies and procedures. Small businesses often think an employee handbook isn’t necessary. But, with a handbook employees will know what is expected from them and what they can expect from you. Having a handbook will also prove that employees were made aware of certain policies/procedures. This may prove beneficial if an employee files a claim against you.

As a small business, your handbook doesn’t need to be as detailed or include every section that a large company would have. It could include a brief overview of your company, your mission/values and general standards of conduct. Then think of specific policies that employees should be aware of, even if you think they’re implied like time/attendance, leave of absence policy, paid time off, use of company equipment, smoking or social media. Also, think of common employment questions or situations with your employees and if a policy will better address them both now and in the future.

You may not think you need a handbook right now but think of where your company is going. Do you expect to hire another one or two employees this year? What about next year? Sure, you and your employees have worked together for a long time and have a mutual understanding of how things work but if you expect to keep growing having a place where employee expectations are set in a uniformed manner will prove beneficial.

Keep in mind, there are federal and state labor law notice requirements. In some cases, these requirements can be satisfied by providing the information in an employee handbook, while others must be posted in the workplace. The most common required postings are Minimum Wage/OT (FLSA), EEO, EPPA and OSHA. Other posters may be required depending upon your industry and the type of benefits you provide and if you’re a federal contractor.

The federal disability law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Some states have similar laws that apply to employers with fewer employees. If such laws don’t apply to you, then it’s generally up to you to establish a practice/policy on the matter. It’s best practice to follow federal law even if you’re not legally required to do so. This ensures your employees are treated fairly and consistently.

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any aspect of employment. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with covered disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship, meaning a significant difficulty or expense. Basically, the employer must discuss with the employee if any reasonable accommodations can be made to allow the employee to perform his/her job. Reasonable accommodations may include job modifications, schedule adjustments, modifying company equipment, or a short term leave of absence.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 at 3:08 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management.
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