Guide to Making an Employee Handbook

The provisions of the Competition Consumer Act 2000 (CCA) are administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as an independent statutory authority. The ACCC, formed in 1995, is the only agency responsible for enforcing the Competition Consumer Act.

The main responsibility of the ACCC is to promote competition and fair trade in the market place which is designed to benefit consumers, business and the community. Included in this responsibility is to ensure that individuals and businesses comply with the Commonwealth's competition, fair trading and consumer protection laws.

In relation to competition matters, the ACCC is the only national agency dealing with this, however, in regards to fair trading and consumer protection the ACCC's role complements that of the state and territory consumer affairs agencies which have the responsibility of administering the mirror legislation of their jurisdictions, as well as the Competition and Consumer Policy Division of the Commonwealth Treasury.

The ACCC also recommends as an alternative to litigation, dispute resolution in appropriate cases and has the power to authorise anti-competitive conduct as well as the power to take legal action when necessary.

In providing some background information on the CCA, its main purpose is to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition and fair trading and provision for consumer protection. The CCA deals with the majority of the different market place facets including the relationships between competitors, customers, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.

The CCA covers the following: unfair market practices, industry codes, merges and acquisitions of companies, product safety, product labeling, price monitoring, and the regulation of industries such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and airports.

Use the headings listed below to form a comprehensive Employee Handbook for your company. Under each heading is a summary of the type of information which you should include in that section.

PART I - PRELIMINARY INDUCTION PROCEDURE FOR NEW STAFF MEMBERS

In this section, include a message from your Managing Director to welcome new employees, and ask that they carefully read and familiarise themselves with this Employee Handbook.

EMPLOYEE COMMITMENT FORM
This form is used to encourage employees to take responsibility for reading and complying with the policies and procedures contained in this Employee Handbook. Have each employee sign this form in their Handbook to demonstrate their commitment.

PART II - GENEREAL INFORMATION

1. OUR COMPANY AND ITS BUSINESS
Outline your Company's role in its specialist industry. Give detail about the special qualities and experience that your Company possesses and why those contribute to your Company's success. You can also highlight the skills and backgrounds that your staff bring to your Company.

2. MISSION STATEMENT
In this section explain what your Company's mission is, any future objectives and how they are being achieved.

3. YOUR EMPLOYMENT AND THIS HANDBOOK
Discuss the role of this Employee Handbook in relation to your Company policy and procedures, and differentiate it from employee's contracts of employment.

4. INDUSTRIAL AWARDS /COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS
Outline the types of employment arrangements offered by your Company, the information procedures for each, and what to do in the event of any inconsistency between an arrangement and this Employee Handbook.

5. EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING
Emphasise that the Company has relied on the details of experience and training that the employee provided to it in their application, and that the Company should be promptly informed if the employee is unable to perform their full range of duties. Provide details about which types of new experience and training courses the Company is willing to provide to or support the employee in attending.

6. EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Encourage employees to voice any concerns about the workplace with the appropriate channel.

7. EMPLOYEE'S DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
In this section, communicate that the employee's duties and responsibilities will commence from the date that the employee accepts the Company's Offer of Employment. Describe the expectations of the Company that the employee will carry out all reasonable lawful instructions and represent the Company efficiently and properly.

8. FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES
Give the status and entitlements of full-time employees in your Company and the number of hours they are expected to work each week.

9. PART-TIME EMPLOYEES
Give the status and entitlements of part-time employees in your Company and the number of hours they are expected to work each week.

10. CONTRACTORS
Identify the difference between contract workers engaged by the Company and employees.

11. PAYMENT OF WAGES
In this section provide information about the time schedule in which wage payments will be made, the manner in which pay will be transferred to employees and the PAYG taxation obligations on employees. Confirm that the Company also pays employees the compulsory 9% Superannuation Employer's contribution under the applicable legislation.

12. EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
Provide the emergency telephone and local area telephone numbers for your closest Police station, Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service.

PART III - POLICIES

13. CUSTOMER SERVICE POLICY
Explain the Company's expectation that employee's will make every effort to ensure they abide by the specific requirements of your Company's Customer Service Policy.

14. DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT POLICY
In this section, provide an expansive definition of both discrimination and harassment, make it clear that the Company will not tolerate either of these offensive forms of behaviour and provide the procedure for employees to follow to alert the Company to any such behaviour which they have witnessed or experienced.

15. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLICY
Affirm the Company's commitment to an Equal Opportunity Policy regarding all employees, and outline the procedures which employees should follow in the event that they witness or experience any deviation from this policy.

16. BULLYING POLICY
Give an expansive definition of bullying and affirm that your Company will not tolerate any instances of bullying within the workplace culture or environment. Advise of the confidential procedure which employees should follow if they witness or experience any instance of bullying in the workplace.

17. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY (OH&S) POLICY
In this section provide a detailed summary of the OH&S rules which employees are expected to follow at all times in order to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees, customers and visitors. Explain which situations or machinery will require employees to wear protective safety equipment, and where they can access this equipment. Advise of the procedure which employees should follow if they witness or experience any improper use of machinery or improper compliance with OH&S rules.

18. NO SMOKING POLICY
Outline details of your smoking/non-smoking policy and the corresponding areas designated to employees wishing to smoke during their break.

19. ALCOHOL AND DRUG POLICY
In this section confirm that any use of alcohol or illegal drugs in the workplace is strictly prohibited and explain the procedures which will be undertaken if an employee is suspected of using alcohol or illegal drugs, such as drug testing or immediate suspension of employment. Provide details of any counselling services which your Company will support in order to facilitate treatment and rehabilitation.

20. COMPUTER AND EMAIL POLICY
Give an explanation of the Company's policy on personal internet and email usage during work hours. Remind employees that all computer files, systems and software are the property of the Company and are intended for use only for Company business. Give an outline of the types of content which are permissible or impermissible on computers, in order for employees to avoid accessing offensive material or material which may be subject to criminal offences.

21. DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION POLICY
Identify that all types of oral, written, recorded information and/or databases are confidential, and must only be used for the benefit of the Company.

22. CORPORATE COMPLIANCE POLICY
Describe the reporting obligations on employees to report any activity conducted by any person in any position in relation to the company which involves anything illegal or contrary to any law.

23. PERSONAL LEAVE POLICY
In this section, identify the conditions on which an employee may take personal/carer's leave or unpaid/carer's leave, and any supporting evidence requirements such as medical certificates or statutory declarations.

24. PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY
Define the types of parental leave including maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave, and outline the pay and time conditions on which an employee may take each type of leave, and any supporting evidence requirements such as medical certificates or statutory declarations.

PART IV - PROCEDURES

25. DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURE
Acknowledge the Company's commitment to settling disputes in a fair and positive manner, and outline the procedure to be adopted when disputes may arise between any employees of the company.

26. COUNSELLING PROCEDURE
In this section, outline the objectives of any Counselling Procedures your Company will provide to an employee in the event of poor or unsatisfactory work by them.

27. WORKPLACE INJURIES AND COMPENSATION PROCEDURE
Give details of the procedure to be undertaken by employees in the case of any workplace injuries or diseases sustained including forms which need to be filled in and supervisors who must be reported to, in order to access the insurance policies and compensation which the Company provides.

28. FIRE EVACUATION PROCEDURE
Outline the warning system which will be activated in the event of fire, identify Fire Wardens in your office and explain the evacuation path which employees must take in the event of a fire evacuation.