The Employee Handbook

What every employer needs to know about the employee handbook


image of book with banner stating The employee handbookThe Employee handbook is also known as company handbook, staff handbook, employee manual or policy manual. It contains a lot of the information which the employer wishes to convey to the employee about company policies and procedures. It should be viewed as a positive contribution to workplace harmony. It facilitates consistency, clarity and equality. By issuing an employee handbook to every worker, the employer helps to establish the company way of doing things. The employee knows that there is a system for dealing with most problems which can arise in the workplace and that helps foster a climate of caring, which in turn helps productivity.

If I have already given written contracts of employment to all staff, what use is an employee handbook?

That’s a fair question. Under current Irish employment legislation you must issue written terms of employment to a new employee within two months of commencing work. All employees must have read and confirmed this in writing within 28 days of starting work. A good way to achieve this is to issue an employee manual at the same time as an employment contract. The employment contract covers the essential terms of employment and takes precedence over the employee manual.

As a result of ongoing changes in Irish employment law, it is frequently necessary to up date policies and procedures. By keeping the employee handbook separate from the employment contract, it is easier to up date.

The employee handbook helps protect you against employment law claims and fines.



What is usually contained in an employee handbook?

The handbook usually starts with an introduction which mentions the company’s history, core values and expected behaviour. It then moves on to policies and procedures.

The following policies are essential and should be included in an employee handbook:

  • Data protection

  • Grievance and disciplinary

  • Sick leave and absences

  • Bullying & Harassment

  • Health & Safety

  • Equality

  • Hours of work

  • break times and rest periods

  • Email, internet and use of telecommunications

  • Right to search

  • Honesty

  • Confidentiality

  • Leave and benefits


Family orientated policies

The three policies which can be classified as family orientated are, maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave. All three should be covered in your employee handbook. If they are not covered in your existing employee manual, you can download each policy , individually from our DIY Documents page here Go to the procedures tab and scroll to the policy you require. Better still download a new up to date Employee handbook, which contains all of the policies you need.

For peace of mind choose the expert review service.


It is vital that all staff read and agree with the employee handbook. It is especially important that your management level staff are familiar with, and follow strictly, company policies and procedures. Most unfair dismissal cases are lost because the employer failed to follow correct procedures. If you don't have an employee handbook, you are taking a risk with your business.

Received, read and understood

It is best practice to have a page for the employee to sign which states that they have received, read and understood the employee handbook. Failure to sign it can be a matter to consider when reviewing the employee’s performance during the probation period, where applicable.

I have had an employee handbook for over ten years am I still ok?

You should have your employee handbook reviewed by an expert in Irish employment law to see if it is still up to date. Many changes in various employment laws were introduced in Ireland over the last ten years, the most recent being the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which commenced on the 25th May 2018.


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I don’t have the time to keep an employee handbook up to date, what should I do?

Contact us. We provide a service which will review your existing manual and add any amendments necessary to keep it updated. If you do not have an employee handbook, we will discuss your needs with you and write a bespoke manual which reflects the needs and culture of your organisation. Just contact us using the orange Tell Me More button below. and we will get in touch with you.




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