Employers aren’t required legally in the UK to provide an employee handbook although it is a very good idea to do so. Perhaps the most important reason for one is that it establishes a formalised compliance culture within your organisation and setting off on the right foot with compliance is good for business.
The purpose of an employee or staff handbook is that it sets out how any organisation complies with current legislation, statute and employment law, the standards required across all sections of the business and what happens when complaints are subsequently filed. The latter is important in the case of workplace behaviour, particularly in the spotlight of #metoo.
Moreover it indicates whether the organisation is simply attempting to attain minimum acceptable standards or whether it aspires to be a leader in the field of workplace standards – this is very important as it tells employees about the inherent organisation ethos and can set a tone for subsequent behaviour. Having used one of the many templates available to generate a comprehensive employee handbook there is no point in just printing it or emailing it out hoping that everyone will simply read and agree. Most probably, it will go straight into a dusty drawer until it is one day needed. That doesn’t help your business.
From the moment a new starter enters the premises onwards, an employee handbook is an important aid memoire for every staff member. Annual iterations or more frequent releases depending on changes in law are a very good idea. Digitally issuing the handbook makes even more sense and is far faster in terms of impact but even then, the handbook exists as a file but may simply never get read.
More importantly your organisation may not be able to prove the staff handbook was ever read, particularly if issued as a hard copy. This may matter a great deal. Those Employers that choose to have and retain definitive evidence that a member of staff received a handbook and signed to say that they comply is extremely powerful. It may even prove crucial in legal circumstances as it adds weight of evidence that an employee agreed to comply and then chose not to do so. Down the line, this may assist in appraisal, disciplinary, employment tribunal cases as your organisation has specific evidence to state what was complied with, what training was provided and exactly when the employee chose specifically to comply with the terms of the handbook issued.
Whilst it is not possible to force any staff member to sign a handbook acknowledgement (and there are plenty of paper acknowledgement templates online if you stick with an arduous manual process), when aligned with the numerous other policies that a staff member needs to comply with, you are establishing a compliance ‘sign-for’ culture which will assist you in handbook receipts.
Requiring your employees to sign a receipt stating that they’ve received, read, and understood the employee handbook may prove far too difficult as a manual process but digitally its something that can be triggered periodically, quickly and iteratively.
Digital signing using Orchestra Read & Comply™ by Signarus is fast, efficient and allows your organisation to issue new versions of a handbook very quickly to hundreds, or thousands of employees. Moreover, you are able to issue exactly the same handbook (or alternative versions by territory) in multiple languages to different international audiences. It allows employees to quickly become familiar with a signature to stay compliant within an organisation.
Therefore digital read and comply is about driving behavioural change regarding compliance. Proving compliance through proactive acknowledgement protects the interest of your business. It also protects your employees by ensuring that they understand the reasons for compliance, standards and behaviour and by helping them quickly become accustomed to taking personal responsibility for their own actions.
Successful organisations rely on great employees and a compliant workforce will be a confident team which in turn helps a business become more successful.
Find out more by calling Signarus on (UK) 0207 788 9445.