Create a Comprehensive Employee Handbook for Your Childcare Company
A comprehensive employee handbook is a must-have for your childcare business. In this article, we will take a look at the purpose of an employee handbook and explore the necessary components of an effective employee handbook. Read on to find out more.
What Is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a manual of your childcare company’s mission and vision, policies and procedures, expectations and provisions for your employees. Essentially, your employee handbook encapsulates the most important information you need your employees to know about working for your childcare business. An employee handbook is a crucial document because it spells out the rules and regulations of your workplace, helping your employees to know what is expected of them, what they can expect from you, as well as protecting your business from legal liability in certain cases.
Putting together a comprehensive employee handbook is no simple task. In addition to including information pertaining to your childcare business specifically, you will also need to include regulations mandated by the federal and state governments that apply to your company. That’s why we recommend working with a professional HR consultant, and even an employment lawyer, to ensure your employee handbook covers all the essential points, using the correct legal language.
Next, let’s take a look at the necessary components of an effective employee handbook.
Company Mission, Vision, and Values
An effective employee handbook often begins with an overview of your company’s mission, vision, and values. What is the goal of your childcare business? What vision drives all the decisions you make on a day-to-day basis? What values are important to you as a business owner, and how will your team of employees work together to champion those values?
This section of your employee handbook is important because it helps employees understand what you’re all about as a company. It gives them a sense of purpose and identity as a part of your team, as well as a picture of what they can help the company achieve as they fill their specific role.
Compensation, Benefits, and Perks
One of the most-referenced sections in an employee handbook is the information on compensation and benefits. Employees want to know what to expect as far as their wages and benefits are concerned. Here you have the opportunity to outline your company’s pay and benefits policies, such as:
- Frequency and time of payment
- How employees are paid (paycheck, direct deposit, etc.)
- Overtime pay
- Bonuses and raises
- What you offer for health insurance, dental, vision, life insurance, as well as retirement plans
- Eligibility for employee benefits, such as full-time status or length of employment
- Paid time off, including vacation time, sick time, and personal days
- Any perks or “soft benefits,” such as free Monday lunches, dress-down Fridays, flexible schedules, and so on
You may wish to include health insurance and retirement plan information packets separately from your employee handbook.
Work Schedule, Business Hours, and Paid Time Off (PTO)
Here, you’ll want to outline the work schedule of a full-time and/or part-time employee. Include your hours of operation, as well as the hours employees are expected to work. (For example, daycare hours may run from 7 AM to 5 PM, but you may expect your employees to work from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM.)
In this section, you may also wish to provide more details about your paid time off (PTO) policy. What holidays does your childcare business observe? Do employees accrue vacation time based on their years of service? Can employees roll over any unused vacation days, or must they “use them, or lose them”? How are sick days handled? What about doctor’s appointments or family emergencies?
Your company policies regarding work schedule, business hours and paid time off should be followed up by a section on the provisions made by federal and state government for these areas.
Family Leave and Medical Leave
In this section, outline your employees’ rights to Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by federal and state regulations. An employment lawyer or professional HR consultant can help you with the legal language necessary to spell out the employee’s rights and protect your business from a disclosure standpoint. You may find this guide to FMLA from the U.S. Department of Labor helpful.
Equal Opportunity Employment and Anti-Discrimination Policies
It is also important (and legally obligatory) to include statements regarding your stance as an equal opportunity employer, as well as your zero-tolerance policy for workplace harassment or discrimination of any kind. Here you may also find an employment lawyer or professional HR consultant indispensable to make sure the language you use provides protection to you as the employer and to your employees. Your status as an EOE and anti-discrimination employer should be in line with the guidelines set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If you have a workplace harassment prevention training plan in place (and you should!), it would be appropriate to outline the details of the program in this section.
General Policies and Procedures
In this section, outline the general policies and procedures that pertain to the running of your childcare facility. Here are some areas to consider:
- Nap Time
- Indoor and Outdoor Playtime
- Diapering, Toileting, and Washing up
- Field Trips
- Maintaining Equipment, Materials and Purchasing
- Child/Staff Interactions
- Parent/Staff Interactions
Workplace Code of Conduct
How do you expect your employees to behave while on the job? Consider the following areas to address in this section of your employee handbook:
- Confidentiality and Right to Privacy
- Professional Demeanor
- Professional Dress
- Cell Phones/Personal Phone Calls
- Food and Hot Beverages
- Staff Schedules
- Calling in Sick
- Gross Misconduct
- Conflict Resolution
Health, Safety, and Emergency Procedures
How will you keep your employees safe, and in turn, how will they help you keep the children you care for safe while under your supervision? Your health, safety, and emergency procedures are a critical component of your employee handbook. Here are some areas to consider:
- Health Policy
- Medication Policy
- Cleanliness and Sanitation Procedures
- Handwashing Policy
- Bodily Fluids Policy
- Accident Procedure
- Emergency Procedure
- Evacuation Procedure
- Child Illness Procedure
- Suspected Child Neglect or Abuse Identification/Reporting
Conclude your employee handbook with important disclaimers that ease the legal liability from you as the employer and set expectations that are understood by all:
- Your employee handbook is not a binding contract between you the employer and your employees; it does guarantee employment.
- Policies are subject to change as you the employer see fit.
- Employees should provide a signed acknowledgment that they have received and read the employee handbook for you to keep on record.
Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a comprehensive employee handbook for your childcare company? Our HR and Compliance partner, Mineral HR, can help! With Smart Employee Handbook Plus, simply fill out a short questionnaire to easily generate a federal and multi-state compliant handbook available for immediate download. Should laws and regulations change, Mineral HR will send a notification and automatically update applicable policies in the handbook.
A comprehensive employee handbook is key to creating a childcare team that shares your mission, vision, and values and contributes to the success of your Early Childhood Education company. A professional accounting service also plays a huge role in the growth and success of your childcare company. Schedule a call with the experts at Honest Buck Accounting to learn how we transform the financial side of your business and give you leverage to grow.