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“The honesty, integrity and sound judgment of our employees, officers, and directors is essential to … reputation and success” (MFIC Corporation, n.a). These are the opening words of MFIC Corporation Code of Ethics. Employee Handbook is not a mere list of rights and responsibilities; it is a rather a reflection of organizational culture and ethical principles. Employee Handbook has to include the following fundamental policies: personal information, attendance, use of company property, confidentiality, harassment, substance abuse, smoking, performance reviews, dress code, compensation and benefits. All of these policies are subjects of ethical considerations because they shape the Employee Handbook, build organizational culture, and create either productive or unproductive working environment.
The Employee Handbook is a communication tool between the employees and the company. If expectations are not set forth and the rights are not addressed, misunderstandings and misstatements might create legal liabilities for business and undermine the company’s culture. From legal perspective, an Employee Handbook is considered to be a contractual obligation (Employee Handbook, 2007). To prevent potential problems, an Employee Handbook writer has to address the following issues (MFIC Corporation, n.a):
- Honest and ethical conduct for dealing with actual conflicts of interest.
- Fair, accurate, and timely disclose of reports.
- Compliance with laws and regulations.
- Ethical guidance for employees to communicate conflicts of interest.
- Misuse of company’s property and opportunities.
- Confidentiality and fair dealing within and outside the company.
- Reporting of illegal or unethical behavior.
As the workforce becomes more and more diverse, the Employee Handbook has to contain a section on discrimination policy and tolerance. In addition, it should specifically state the consequences of policy violation (for example, disciplinary punishment or fine). An Employee Handbook should start with administrative policies because they have the greatest influence on workplace environment.
Mission statement, as a reflection of ethical principles, should be clear and understandable. In addition, Handbook must contain sections on collective bargaining, electronic main policy, internet policy, discipline, personal property, collections, safety, and violence (Town of Greenwich Employee Handbook, 2007). Handbook should empower employees to know their rights and be able to protect themselves from unethical conducts.
From one side, Employee Handbook has to address all administrative issues. From the other side, Employee Handbook has to emphasize the ethical values in relation to organizational culture as well as laws. For example, Employee Handbook must contain guidelines on Discrimination. In particular, employees should be informed that discrimination on age, disability, national origin, race, religion, and sex is prohibited by law and is not tolerated by company’s policies (Ethics, Conflicts of Interest, and Acceptance of Gifts, n.a.). Employees should know what to do and to whom to talk in case they face discrimination or are aware of discrimination instance within the company.
Employee Handbook should include information on conflicts of interests. For example, an employee shall not use his position to obtain unlawful benefits, advantages, or financial gains. No employee should promote a person who is a member of his family; no employee should give favored treatment in supervision of another employee because of any reasons. These statements are directly related to ethics. In conclusion, Employee Handbook is a part of organizational culture and it should give employees confidence in protection of their rights. Without adherence to laws and ethics, Employee Handbook will not be effective.
Employee Handbook (2007). Small Business Notes. Web.
Ethics, Conflicts of Interest, and Acceptance of Gifts. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Web.
MFIC Corporation Code of Ethics. MFIC Corporation Official Website. Web.
Town of Greenwich Employee Handbook (2007). Greenwich Virtual Town. Web.