Employee handbooks are a typical occurrence in the workplace, and they serve as a vital resource for both employers and employees.
Policies, rules, and information regarding the company’s expectations and processes are often included in these handbooks.
However, a common concern is whether the terms in the company’s handbook bind an employee contractually. The legal implications of company handbooks and their function in the employer-employee relationship will be discussed in this article.
The role of employee handbooks
Employee handbooks serve various key functions within a company.
They inform employees about their rights and duties, the company’s code of conduct, and numerous workplace policies.
These handbooks are also a means for employers to communicate their expectations and standards, which can help maintain a productive and harmonious work environment. However, whether the handbook’s terms are legally binding on employees is dependent on a number of factors.
Did the employment contract mention the employee handbook?
One of the key factors that determine whether the terms in a company’s handbook are legally binding is whether the handbook is part of the employment contract. If the employment contract mentions the employee handbook, the terms of handbook will form part of the employment contract. In such a scenario, a potential employee should ask to see the employee handbook before signing the employment contract to ensure that he agrees with the terms in the handbook.
If the employment contract does not mention the employee handbook, then legally, the terms in the handbook are not part of the employment contract. In that case, the contents of the handbook are merely “best practices” recommended by the employer.
There are some legal obligations which are implied by law into an employment contract. Therefore, even if they are not expressly mentioned in the employment contract or in a contractually binding employee handbook, the law imposes such legal obligations on the employee. Such implied legal obligations include a duty to act in the best interests of the employer at all times. For example, an employee would be in breach of an implied term to act in the best interests of the employer if the employee passes confidential information (e.g. customer lists) to a competitor.
In conclusion, the terms in a company’s handbook may or may not bind an employee depending on whether it was part of the employment contract at the point it was signed. It is essential for both employers and employees to be aware of the legal implications of the handbook and seek legal counsel when necessary.
It can be difficult to navigate the nuances of employment law, especially issues related to employee handbooks. This is where appointing a lawyer to review your contracts comes in handy. Commercial litigation services in Singapore may assist both employers and employees in understanding their rights and duties.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need legal advice or representation regarding employment-related issues, consider reaching out to a reputable law firm like DC Law LLC for their expertise in general litigation services.
For more information, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.