Not only are employee handbooks vital to any business, they are delicate documents. They must cover a lot of territory — and there is no one-size-fits-all.

But all employee handbooks should start with the basics. Attorney and general contractor Nick Spirtos provides a list of essential information and policies to include to help your company maintain best practices and achieve solid results.

Workplace rules and schedules

How to clock in to work

Rule against working off the clock

Attendance expectations

Dress code


Pay structure and expectations


Process for granting promotions

Exempt vs. non-exempt status

Equal employment, nondiscrimination and sexual harassment policies

Leave benefits — including paid and unpaid

Anti-retaliation laws

Employment at will status

Termination procedures

Confidentiality protection

Insurance and benefits

Worker’s compensation

Overtime benefits and rules

Vacation, holiday and paid time off

Voting, jury duty, and court witness leave

Rules for workplace safety

Injury and illness prevention plan

Requirements for using company vehicles and other property

Substance abuse