Editor's message: A staff handbook can be used to communicate disciplinary and grievance policies as well as the organisation's stance on other issues such as harassment, discrimination, absence, family-friendly rights and other HR matters.
It can also help an organisation show it has acted fairly in accordance with a set of policies and procedures, which can be invaluable for an employer facing a tribunal claim.
Careful drafting is required as terms may be incorporated into a contract of employment, including the entire handbook or some sections of it, regardless of whether or not this was the intention.
Fiona Cuming, employment law editor
Updated to include information on Hills v Niksun Inc, concerning the burden of proof in establishing if contractual discretion was exercised reasonably.
Practical guidance on drafting an employment contract, including the written statement of particulars; formation of the contract; variation clauses; mobility clauses; collective agreements; probationary periods; confidentiality clauses; garden leave clauses; and post-termination restrictions.
Entry from the XpertHR policies and documents module providing an example introduction to a staff handbook, along with legal background, notes, warnings and future developments.
This case demonstrates the importance of employers complying with the terms of contractual staff handbooks and dealing with grievance appeals properly.
This case is a good example of how the terms of a staff handbook that is stated to be non-contractual can still be incorporated into an employee's contract of employment.
An example staff handbook structure for small businesses and accompanying guidance.
In Bateman and others v Asda Stores Ltd EAT/0221/09, the EAT held that the employer was entitled to change its employees' pay arrangements without their consent because it had reserved a clear contractual right to make unilateral variations to their terms and conditions of employment.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that an employer can reserve the right to vary employees' contracts unilaterally. Although varying a contractual term without notice or consultation can amount to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, it was not asserted that there had been such a breach in this case and the employer's unilateral variation of a pay regime was therefore valid.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to staff handbooks.