If you have employees working for your business, it’s essential to put together an employee handbook. Without a manual in place, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce workplace rules. The lack of an employee policy can also be a legal nightmare if you find yourself the subject of litigation. However, it can be challenging to know what types of information a handbook should contain. The following are five key components that should be part of any employee policy in the workplace.

1. Defining the terms of employment

You will want to establish whether an employee is full-time, part-time, or working in a contract position. Remind your employees that New York is an “at-will” employment state. This means that they can be terminated at any time unless they have a contract that states otherwise.

2. Anti-discrimination and harassment policies

You will want to state clearly that there is no tolerance for discrimination or harassment in the workplace. You should also provide examples that would violate company policy. You will want to establish a procedure for how employees should handle cases of discrimination and harassment. You will also want to establish a process for reporting and addressing these types of claims.

3. Employee conduct policies

Do you intend to drug test your employees? Will you be establishing a dress code? Will you prohibit firearms on company property? Your employee conduct policy should address these types of questions.

4. Vacations and leaves of absence

You will want to establish how employees accrue vacation time. You will also need to set forth how absences, both planned and unplanned, are to be reported. If you intend to provide bereavement leave, you should outline those parameters here.

5. Termination policy

You should include a detailed termination process, including whether you will want employees to submit to an exit interview. You will also want to establish the procedure for paying unused vacation time. If you intend to provide a severance package, you’ll want to detail that policy in this section.

All employee handbooks should end with a section that asks the employee to acknowledge that they have received, read, and understood the handbook. You should work closely with a legal professional who can help tailor your employee policy to suit the needs of your business.