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Simple Tips for Ministry Employee Handbooks

Learn how to create and maintain your ministry employee handbook.

Every ministry, no matter how small, could benefit from maintaining an employee handbook. A proper handbook defines what you expect from employees and what they can expect from you. By following a few simple tips, your ministry handbook can provide valuable legal protection if your policies are challenged in court.

Getting Started

  • Consult an attorney. Your policies and procedures may be subject to federal, state, and local laws. Have an attorney review your handbook before it is distributed to employees.
  • Keep it simple. Information should be concise and straightforward. An employee handbook is not an employment contract and it shouldn't read like one.
  • Understand what is required. Certain information—like equal employment opportunity and harassment policies—should be a part of every employee handbook.
  • Answer common questions. Think of your handbook as an additional HR staff member. Consider the most commonly asked questions of HR and include the information in the handbook.

Ongoing Efforts

  • Review the handbook regularly. You can never be finished with your employee handbook. Laws and interpretations of them can change over time. Establish a schedule for reviewing your policies and procedures.
  • Communicate policy changes. When policies do change, have a formal plan for making sure employees are aware of the changes.
  • Document acknowledgement. Maintain written or electronic acknowledgement that employees have received and read the handbook. There will be no question that an employee is aware of a policy, if you have proof to back it up.
  • Enforce policies consistently. Your handbook will provide little protection from liability if it is not enforced or done so sporadically. If you don't expect employees to comply with a particular policy, consider rewording or removing it.

This article was created by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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  • April 20, 2009

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