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We regularly sign-up new clients and they provide us with a copy of a handbook that’s been produced for them by an expert. Often these handbooks can be more than 90 pages long and include terms and conditions of employment which bear no relation to the organisation itself. Whilst we understand that in some regulated industries such as health and social care, regulators insist on having certain policies in the handbook and some clients also require it, we always advise that you keep the handbook as short as possible, not least because people are more likely to read it! 

In one particular case it was clear the three pages of expenses policy did not apply to the company that issued the handbook. 

A handbook should be there to help the employee understand how they should do things in their job and set the values and culture of the organisation, so they know what behaviours are expected of them. We always advise not to include statutory rights within a handbook. If the statutory rights change you then must change the handbook. It is far better to merely point the employee to the website which explains their statutory rights. 

We also try to make sure that there are no rules within the handbook that simply do not apply to the organisation. In one case we found a handbook which had rules for sickness absence for food handlers and kitchen staff. The organisation was an IT dev company which specialised in writing software. I seriously doubt that they employed any kitchen staff and, sorry folks, I certainly wouldn’t have trusted any of the software engineers with making my dinner. 

Our advice keep it short and avoid jargon, and if it’s more than 30 pages long it could do with pruning.