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In general, having an employee handbook or policy manual is a good business practice, but specifically, there are some good reasons, from a legal standpoint, to create an employee handbook.

The Purpose of an Employee Handbook

    • Employees like to know what is expected of them and they want to know that they are being treated the same way as other employees. The perception of unfair treatment can lead to disgruntled employees and lawsuits. For example, if all employees know how many vacation days they receive, they won’t be wondering if other employees are getting more days.
    • Having the same rules for all employees makes running the church easier. There’s no need to think about what to do in a specific situation. Sure, there are times when there’s no written policy on an issue, but having some general guidelines can help deal with specific situations.
    • Written policies show employees that your church wants to be fair. That intent goes a long way towards good morale in general and in dealing with individual employees who are discontented.
    • Finally, written policies and procedures can help you deal with lawsuits. The policy manual can be used as evidence in a discrimination lawsuit; in fact, such a manual might even prevent a lawsuit.

    Why an Employee Handbook isn’t Enough

    After you have prepared that employee handbook for your church, there are several more things you should do:

    Communication
    Make sure all current employees know about the handbook and that it is available to them. Give each employee a copy (make sure you get a signature so you can show that all employees have received their copy).

    Put a copy on the church website. Remind employees about specific policies. In other words, make sure there’s no way an employee can plead ignorance of the policies and procedures in the manual.

    Implement
    Follow the handbook. Take action when you need to. Using the handbook to deal quickly with employee issues reinforces your intent to be fair and your intent to follow the handbook.

    Revise

    Re-visit the handbook annually. Update policies that have changed (make sure you communicate the changes immediately!) and consider other changes to address issues that have come up. If you change a policy and you don’t change the handbook, you’re inviting legal issues.

    No matter how many employees you have, an employee manual or employee handbook is an essential tool for running your church.

    So have you created an employee handbook yet?

    Learn more on how to build your employee handbook

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    Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

    This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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