Why Are Employee Handbooks Important?

Employee Handbooks are business staples across the world. These documents, printed or digital, are standard business practices for organizations of all sizes. Employee Handbooks contain a large portion of a company’s standard rules and regulations, expected practices, benefits, and often, a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement. It is presumed that new and existing employees will all be provided with copies of the handbook to sign as confirmation of the agreement and also have a copy for any future reference needs.

Many sections of a handbook for a multinational employer will be relevant for employees located in different parts of the world. However, based on local employment laws, it is not possible for companies to use a single handbook that is 100% compliant in their business’s various locations, as each country has unique policies requiring certain benefits to be provided to employees based on their physical location.

Common Employee Handbook Sections:

  • Company’s Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Corporate Code of Conduct
  • Technology Usage Policy
  • Leave Policies (e.g., Maternity, Paternity, Adoption)
  • Company/Statutory Holidays
  • Annual Leave
  • Financial Benefits
  • Health Benefits
  • Terminations
  • Performance/Annual Review Procedures
  • Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality Agreement
  • Signature Page

Local laws will determine what additional information or sections are essential to include in a company’s employee handbook.

For example, in Australia, per the Fair Work National Employment Standards (NES), all employees are entitled to the following employment stipulations: 

  • Maximum weekly hours 
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Parental leave and related entitlements
  • Annual leave
  • Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave, and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • Fair Work Information Statement

An employer in Australia would want to include these statutory benefits in their employee handbook and any benefits offered by the organization that is above and beyond the minimum entitlements required by the Australian government. Outlining these entitlements in the employee handbook ensures that an employee has been informed of both their rights and benefits and indicates the company is taking action to ensure compliance with government regulations to uphold employment laws in the countries in which they operate.

Human Resource departments are typically responsible for creating Employee Handbooks, commonly in conjunction with the operations and legal departments. Just as laws and regulations are revised on an annual basis, it is vital for an organization to maintain its employee handbooks as a living document for continued corporate compliance. As local laws change and develop over time, corporations are required to comply with these fluctuations and evaluate their internal policies to coincide with government policies. Conducting annual reviews is also an opportune time to analyze the competitiveness of any supplemental benefits currently available to determine if the organization is offering the appropriate benefits to recruit and retain employees.

Our team can review your current handbook for compliance, make recommendations on section/content additions or removal, as well as create a handbook from scratch if you’re not sure where to start. We are here to support your compliant entry or continued business in any country.


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