Is a Staff Handbook Necessary and What Should It Include?

Written by Leah Waller
Senior Employment Consultant Solicitor

I am often asked what needs to be in place when taking on a new employee…

Well, first things first; a Contract of Employment is a great place to start as this sets out all the expectations, obligations and agreement of the role, as well as complying with your legal obligation to provide a Written Statement of Terms to employees in accordance with Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

employee handbook with red glasses sitting on top

However, there may be policies that you would like staff to follow that you don’t necessarily want to include in their Employment Contract, perhaps policies that may require amends from time to time or you do not want to be contractually binding upon the parties…that is where the Staff Handbook comes in.

Your Staff Handbook is the perfect place to give details on policies and procedures that you expect your staff to follow and you can keep this update at any time, without requiring their consent to make amends (as may be necessary with their Contract of Employment).

So, let’s take a look at what should be included in your Staff Handbook:

I have set out below some of the policies that I would consider for any business, some may not be relevant to yours just yet and may become relevant and some will be relevant from the very beginning…

Holiday Policy

This would include things like:

o     Holiday entitlement and taking holiday

o     Sickness during periods of holiday

o     Long-term absence and holiday

o     Arrangements on termination

Whistleblowing Policy


o     Understanding whistleblowing

o     Raising a concern

o     Protection and confidentiality

o     External disclosures

Drugs and Alcohol Policy

Specifically covering:

o     Misuse of drugs or alcohol

o     Screening and searches


Bribery Policy

Giving details of:

o     Understanding bribery & corruption

o     What staff must not do

o      Kickbacks, gifts, hospitality and expenses

o      Record keeping and staff obligations

Data Protection Policy

Covering off all GDPR requirements including:

o     Data Protection Principles

o     Lawfulness, fairness & transparency

o     Purpose limitation

o     Data minimisation and accuracy

o     Transfer limitations

o     Data Subject Rights and Requests

o     Dealing with Subject Access Requests

o     Right to:

    • rectify
    • erase
    • restrict
    • object
    • data portability

Modern Slavery Policy


o     Prevention

o     Human-Trafficking

o     Suppliers

Social Media Policy

This is where you can give details for:

o     Rules for using social media

o     Business contacts

o     Problems on social media

Grievance Policy

This will be referred to within the Employment Contract (as it is q requirement) but the

Policy in the Handbook can give more details, including:

o     Informal grievances

o     Formal grievances

o     Right to be accompanied

Equal Opportunities Policy

This policy will include:

o     Different types of discrimination

o     Duties and responsibilities for management and staff

o     Recruitment and selection

o     Breaches and enforcement

Harassment and Bullying Policy

 This will include details on:

o     Understanding harassment & bullying

o     Dealing with the problem

o     Confidentiality

o     Protection

Maternity and Family Friendly Policy

Family-Friendly Policies will cover all information in relation to the following (even if the

Company offers the Statutory requirements), so it is easily accessible to all staff

o     Maternity leave and pay

o     Shared parental leave

o     Paternity, adoption and ordinary parental leave

Flexible Working Policy

Although a legal entitlement for many staff, with you for a certain period, your own policy

can set out more details in relation to:

o   What is flexible working?

o   Business needs

o   Making requests

o   Dealing with requests

Performance Improvement Policy

This can include:

o   Investigations

o   Meetings

o   Notices

o   Process

Absence Management Policy

Also referred to as a Sickness Policy, this may include:

o     Reporting

o     Evidence of incapacity

o     Fit for work

o     Managing long term and persistent absence

o     Other types of absence

Redundancy Policy

Although this may not seem likely, or even fathomable, at the outset of taking on new staff, it

isn’t a bad idea to cover all bases from the beginning and keep it updated as your business


o     Avoiding redundancies

o     Making redundancies

o     Sample selection criteria

Disciplinary Policy

This will also be referred to within your Contract of Employment but again, this Policy in the Handbook can give more specific details (that can then be updated) in relation to:

o     Investigations

o     Dismissal and other sanctions

o     Examples

If you think that you may need a Staff Handbook, or your current Handbook needs a bit of a review; we can help!

If there is anything you require assistance with, our Employment Department at Greystone Solicitors offer a FREE initial consultation and are more than happy to help. 
Call us on 01582 343453 or email on

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