Human Resource Solutions


Free Employee Policy Templates for Small Businesses

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Updated for 2024

Do you need an Employee Handbook for your small business?

If so we have a 40 page professionally written and
designed Employee Handbook template free..

Staff Handbook

Does my UK business legally need to have an employee handbook?

No, having an employee handbook is not a legal requirement in the United Kingdom. You do however need to produce a principal statement of the main condtions of employment (Contract of Employment) for each employee on or before the day they start working for you. This is legally binding.

So why should I bother having one?

The employment contract outlines important details specific to that individual employee; the employee handbook applies to all employees and sets out your company policies and working practices. It establishes how the company complies with employment law, the standards it expects from it's employees, and how complaints from or about employees will be addressed. So while it can be quite daunting to produce a handbook it is well worth it.

What are the specific benefits of an employee handbook?

  • It ensures you have clearly thought through your employment policies and it allows you to communicate these clearly to your employees. A good handbook ensures there is no ambiguity about the conduct and behaviour you expect from your staff or what they can expect from you as their employer.
  • The handbook ensures consistency in how employees are treated - managers/business owners can use it as a source of reference when answering employee questions, making decisions or taking corrective action around performance.
  • You can use it to describe your company, promote it's values and outline any benefits to the employee of working for the organisation. This is especially useful for new employees to help them understand the "way we do things here" and to integrate with the team and company culture.
  • Should an employee take you to an Employment Tribunal or seek other legal redress, an effectively written handbook provides an invaluable document demonstrating you have appropriate policies in place and have exercised a proper duty of care towards the employee (assuming you have behaved in a way which is aligned with the policies set out in the handbook!)

Is the employee handbook contractually binding?

The contract of employment is legally binding and so any element of that which is expanded upon in the handbook is likely to be deemed part of the contract (and so legally binding) for example: calculation of remuneration, annual leave entitlement etc. Therefore these should not be changed without appropriate consultation with the staff concerned. For those elements not in the employment contract then you can specify whether these are contractual or not in the handbook. It is usually beneficial to make such things non-contractual so they can be changed if necessary without getting the consent of the workforce. You can build in a "flexibility clause" to the handbook which gives you the right to amend the handbook from time to time when necessary (e.g. when employment law changes).

I'm convinced - where do I start?

Well you can start from scratch if you like. Here are some of the sections that you may wish to include:

  • About the Company
  • Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
  • Data Protection Policy
  • Dress Code
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy
  • Staff Telephone, Email and Internet Policy (including the use of personal mobiles)
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Flexible Working Procedure
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental Leave
  • Probation Periods
  • Redundancy Procedure
  • Staff Sickness and Absence Policy
  • Smoking and Vaping Policy
  • Company and Personal Property
  • Confidentiality
  • Leaving the Company incl Retirement
  • Whistleblowing Policy

However the templates available on this page can significantly help you to produce an effective employee handbook quickly and efficiently - and for free!

We have produced a free 40 page professionally written and designed Employee Handbook template which you can adapt to your own organisation. This is based on models of good practice and should meet the requirements of UK law ; it should therefore also be fit for purpose within European Community countries. Indeed the basis of the Handbook could be applied to any organisation with a bit of adapting.

We have tested the template in several small and medium sized organisations, and the typical basic setup time is under 2 hours. Use this template if you use a seperate template for your contracts of employment and want a fairly large and complete handbook.

We have also produced a simplified and integrated Employment Contract and Staff Handbook. This is designed for use by any small business even if only employing one member of staff. It incorporates both the contract and simple handbook in one document.

The templates are generic and so you will need to ensure that you adapt these appropriately for your business.

Free Policy and Document Downloads

Please note that we update these templates regularly to reflect changes to employment law. Please ensure you sign up for our email update service here or your downloads will go out of date and be inaccurate.

1. Employee Handbook Template
Here is the template which has been recently updated to take account of all current legislation and can be freely adapted for your Company.

2. Employee Handbook Guidance Note
A guidance note to help with the production of the Staff Handbook.

3. Integrated Employment Contract and Staff Handbook
This is a combined employment contract and staff handbook which contains all the information you need to provide to your new employee. It is fully compliant with employment law and best practice, covers permanent, fixed-term and zero-hours arrangements and is suitable for all SME's even if you are only employing one person. There is also a fully completed example for guidance.

Useful Links

Handbook and Policy Manual Samples and Information
Useful information from US