When it comes to employee forms and paperwork, staff handbooks have to be the least fun to create. They are boring to write and consist of too much legalese- yet you need one for your gym. Handbooks are invaluable for keeping your team informed of your policies and can help you out of an HR jam. So no matter how tedious they are to create, you must do the work to write one. Here’s some advice on the main sections your handbook should contain.
Company Policies and Information
This section should contain all of the policies and procedures specific to your business.
1. Introduction: share your mission, vision and gym’s philosophy.
2. Holidays and Time Off: list all holidays and days your gym is closed, as well as any policies for requesting and taking time off, sick and jury duty days.
3. Expectations for Performance and Conduct: cover things like breaks, expectations for professionalism, dress code, prohibitions against harassment and discrimination, substance abuse policy, social media policy, confidentiality and grievance policy.
4. Employee Reviews: let your employees know what they can expect as far as your procedures on reviews and evaluations.
5. Wage and Payroll: let employees know how (and how often) they will be paid. Cover your overtime policy and how employees should track and submit their time sheets. (Be careful to classify your employees appropriately, as the difference between an exempt and nonexempt employee can be confusing)
6. Benefits: list the benefits you offer and your eligibility criteria.
Employee Rights and Protections
This section should contain information on employee protections.
1. Equal Employment and Non-Discrimination Policies: provide a written statement affirming that you adhere to Federal EEOC guidelines and procedures. Your statement can be as simple as:
We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We extend equal opportunity to all individuals without regard for race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, handicaps or veterans status. We comply with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment and expressly prohibit any form of workplace harassment or discrimination based on the classes and conditions named above.
2. Worker’s Compensation Policy: share your worker’s compensation coverage and policy information. You should also note how you want your employees to handle and report on the job accidents.
3. FMLA (and other protections your employees are eligible for): unless you have 50 (or more) employees, your team isn’t covered by FMLA. But it’s important to know which laws you need to uphold.
This section should contain any disclaimers or legal statements dissolving you of liability.
1. Subject to Change: note that your policies in the handbook may be subject to change at any time.
2. At Will Employment: SHRM recommends including a disclaimer stating that your handbook does not constitute a contract, and employment remains At Will.
3. Acknowledgment: also include an acknowledgment page that states your employee understands it’s their responsibility to know and follow the policies outlined in your handbook. Here’s an example of a basic acknowledgment of receipt combined with an employment At Will statement:
I hereby acknowledge receipt of the (Your Gym’s Name) Employee Handbook. I understand that it is my responsibility to read and adhere to the policies and procedures outlined. I also understand and agree that this document is not an employment contract. I have the right to resign from my employment at any time, with or without notice or cause. I also understand (Your Gym’s Name) has the right to terminate my employment at any time, with or without notice or cause.
Employment law experts recommend having an attorney review your handbook before you share it with your team. Doing so will incur an additional cost, but it will also give you peace of mind that you won’t run into unexpected trouble later on.
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