The Most Important Part of an Employee Handbook

Pop quiz: Do you know the most important page in your employee handbook?

Is it the at-will statement? No.

Is it the harassment policy? Nope.

Is it the vacation policy? Wrong again.

It is the acknowledgement page – that page at the back of the handbook that you ask employees to sign to show that they have received a copy of the handbook and are responsible for reading through it and abiding by its policies. Without that page, the rest of the handbook may as well not even exist.

Employee handbooks are the first line of defense for employers. Handbooks set forth the company’s rules and procedures and can be utilized to justify termination decisions. When those termination decisions are challenged, either through the state unemployment system, through a discrimination charge with the EEOC or in a lawsuit, the employee handbook will be front and center.

But if an employer has failed to have their employees sign that acknowledgement page, they are unable to prove that the employee actually received a copy of the policies the employer then applied, or that the employee even knew the policy existed at all. This is not a position an employer ever wants to be in, and it is completely avoidable.

Employee handbooks should be reviewed annually. Whenever any changes are made, the employer should distribute the changes and get a new acknowledgment signed. If you have not had the acknowledgement signed in the past, this is the perfect time to rectify that problem, before it comes back to bite you.