Your Agency Needs a Policy Manual Like This One

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Dec 14, 2015
This article is part of a series called Jeff's On Call.

Okay, everyone . . .

Because you need this yesterday, here’s a sample policy manual.

Whether it’s payment of commissions, conduct on the job, or termination of employees, the law looks to whether you provided sufficient notice to them of what to expect. Only about 10% of the staffing offices have a policy manual. It’s one of those low priority “housekeeping” projects that never seems important until you get nailed (or want to nail someone).

PrintUnlike an employment agreement, a policy manual covers general business operations. It states the rules rather than specific rights and liabilities. A good one can increase productivity, since everyone knows where they stand.

What follows is a guideline to creating your own.

1. Goal

The goal of (name of your business) is to promptly, ethically and efficiently identify and recruit qualified employees for client-employers. Each person employed by us is responsible for implementing this goal and maintaining our favorable reputation among clients, candidate and members of the public.

2. Office Relations

Co-workers should be treated with the utmost respect and professional courtesy. Since a significant amount of our business is through a cooperative effort, we encourage the exchange of job orders, resumes and other placement information within the office.

Most of our business is done by phone, so we are particularly careful to take detailed messages for each other and ensure the call is returned at the earliest opportunity.

When clients, candidates or others call and visit our office, they have certain expectations which you will either confirm or change. Regardless of their attitude, they should be treated courteously.

3. Client and Candidate Confidences

Our success is based upon the relationships we have developed with clients and candidates.

During the course of discussing staffing requirements with clients, confidential information concerning employee performance and business developments are often discussed (promotions, transfers, terminations, plans for expansion, new products, etc.). The utmost care must be exercised to treat this information as confidential, and to reveal only those items that are necessary to recruit qualified candidates while not jeopardizing our clients.

The right to privacy of candidates must also be respected. Under no circumstances must their desire to seek other employment or personal information be revealed, directly or indirectly, to their current employers.

Serious legal and business consequences can result from the breach of client and candidate confidences. Any employee who does so is subject to immediate dismissal without notice

4. Access to Trade Secrets

The continuation of our business depends on the client and candidate database, and the unique recruiting procedures we have developed. As an employee of (name of your business), you will have access to the database and obtain information that will become a part of it. You will also become fully acquainted with our procedures.

All client names, addresses, phone numbers, names of hiring authorities, hiring preferences, backgrounds, job openings, and related information are solely the property of (name of your business). In addition, all candidate names, addresses, phone numbers, job preferences, backgrounds, and related information are solely our property.

While you are employed, this information is to be held in the strictest of confidence. Should you leave for any reason, it is not to be used by you, directly or indirectly.

We will vigorously enforce our right to the protection of our trade secrets, and the techniques and forms used to obtain them.

5. Probationary Period

For the first 90 days you are employed by (name of your business), you will be considered on probationary status. This gives us the opportunity to evaluate each other, allowing either party to make any adjustments or terminate the relationship without notice.

Your performance will be informally reviewed at 30, 60 and 90 day intervals, to permit us to discuss your progress.

We encourage you to ask any questions you may have during this period.

6. Phone, Email, Postage and Office Supply Usage

Moderate use of phones for personal calls and occasional personal emails are permitted, as long as they don’t interfere with office business.

Postage and office supplies (including photocopies) are monitored, and we expect everyone to exercise discretion in their personal use. You may be charged for these unless prior consent is obtained.

Excessive personal phone, email, postage and supply use without authorization may result in immediate dismissal without notice.

7. Expense Reimbursement

To be reimbursed, all meals, entertainment and travel expenses must be approved in advance by the manager. Since our business is conducted primarily by phone and mail communication, personal meetings by consultants with clients are usually not productive. Therefore, we do not encourage them.

8. Compensation

Our pay periods are on the (X and XX) day of each month (or the first work day thereafter). Consultants are paid a fixed draw at each interval, to be deducted from commissions earned as a result of fees received from placements made by the consultant. Where one consultant places a candidate through a job order written by another, each is entitled to half their full commission. All draws and commissions shall be subject to payroll deductions.

Commissions shall only be payable after the guarantee period to the client, and shall be based on net “cash-in” only. Collection efforts, costs, and terms of settlement shall be solely in the discretion of (name of your business).

Upon termination, we apply the formula recommended by Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. in determining the amount of commission due. (See: “What Do You Owe A Departing Consultant?”)

9. Notice of Termination

(Name of your business) reserves the right to terminate the services of any employee at any time. The amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice (if any) will be determined on an individual basis, considering such factors as the reason for termination and length of employment.

10. Insurance

After 90 days of continuous employment, each employee is eligible for benefits under the (name of your business) group insurance plan. This includes major medical, hospitalization and life insurance for the employee.

The entire cost for your coverage under the basic plan is paid by (name of your business). You may add dependents or increase coverage at your own expense pursuant to other terms and conditions of the policy.

The manager has complete information regarding the coverage available, cost and claim procedure.

11. Clerical Support

Our office staff prepares and sends correspondence in the following order:

  • Invoices
  • Congratulatory letters
  • Fee schedules
  • Letters of agreement (retainers, exclusive assignments, etc.)
  • Resumes
  • Cover letters
  • Special projects (mass-mailings, promotions, etc.)

12. Fee Schedules

When you submit a completed job order form to the manager, a fee schedule will be immediately sent to the client. Any modification of the fee, guarantee, or other provisions of the schedule must be approved by the manager in advance.

The fee schedule is our contract with the employer. Therefore, it is your responsibility to always explain the fee and terms to the hiring authority, confirm the acceptance and follow up to be certain the schedule was received, a copy signed and returned to our office.

13. Sendout Slips

Each candidate should receive a copy of the sendout slip in advance of an interview. If it cannot be mailed or given to the candidate in time, the copy should be mailed or given to the client.

The sendout slip is evidence that we were responsible for referring the candidate, and confirms our fee schedule again. Therefore, it must be delivered to the client before the interview (either through the candidate or directly).

14. Activity Log

All spaces on every page of the log should be completed. The log will become the “nerve center” of your desk, and provide a complete chronology of every client and candidate meeting. Prepare it so that if you are absent, another consultant can readily continue with pending placements.

The log is subject to review by the manager at any time, and must not be taken from the office.

15. Billing Procedure

Each consultant is responsible for completing and submitting the placement information form to the manager, to activate the billing cycle.

The information form must be accurate and complete to ensure the fee and commission will be paid in a timely manner.

Therefore, the manager will not accept any form where the entire name (including “Inc.,” “Corp.,” “Ltd.,” etc.), physical address (including suite number and zip code), all email addresses, name of the hiring authority (including middle initial), title of the hiring authority, title of the position, acceptance date, start date, annual starting salary or other information is missing.

The information documents should be stapled to the information form:

  • Copy of job order
  • Original candidate profile sheet
  • Resume of candidate
  • Original send-out slips
  • Copy of log sheets relating to placement
  • Correspondence with client and candidate

All computer documents regarding the placement must be printed and included in the package.

16. Office Hours

Regular office hours are 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday, except holidays, with one-hour lunch periods.

Employees are expected to be in the office actively working during these hours. Any overtime must be authorized in writing by the manager, in advance.

17. Holidays

Although the office will be closed, you will be paid for the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

If any of these holidays fall on a weekend, the office will be closed either the preceding Friday or the following Monday.

18. Vacations

Your paid vacation days will accrue as follows:

  • After 1 Year……………10 Work Days
  • After 5 Years……….. ..15 Work Days
  • After 10 Years…………20 Work Days

Time preferences for vacation will be honored according to seniority.

Unused vacation after the first year will be paid upon termination.

19. Personal Time

After the first 90 days, you will accrue paid personal time (including sick leave) at the rate of 1 day per month.

If you request it, unused personal time will be paid at the end of each year. However, you can carry up to 5 days unused time into the second year, and up to 17 days into every year thereafter. Time must be taken in half or full day increments.

Unused personal time will not be paid upon termination.

20. Absenteeism

You are expected to provide adequate notice to the manager if you will be late or absent from work. You are also expected to arrange for your placement activity to continue in your absence.

Excessive tardiness and absenteeism, or the failure to notify us of your inability to report for work, are grounds for immediate dismissal without notice.

21. Equal Employment Opportunity

(Name of your business) is committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity. It is your responsibility to procure job orders and refer candidates without regard to race, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or other discriminatory requirements.

22. Security

The front door should be locked except during regular office hours. Client and candidate information sources, correspondence, messages, reference materials, and other confidential items should be locked in your desk or the central files at the close of each work day.

Online and office information on your computer must be carefully controlled.

Visitors should not overhear conversations or read information concerning proprietary business that does not involve them.

Should you lose any of the keys assigned to you, notify the manager immediately. Personal and office security is everyone’s responsibility.

The Legal Effect

The courts are increasingly finding that policy manuals are valid contracts, even though they may not be written in legalese or be signed with the formality of employment agreements (Weiner v. Mcgraw-Hill, Inc. 57 Ny2d 458, 457 NYS2d 193, 443 NE2d 441).

Be as creative as you like, but:

Keep it simple.

  • Allow room for managerial discretion.
  • Don’t overstate your willingness to treat employees “fairly,” “equitably,” “equally,” “consistently,” “impartially,” “evenhandedly,” etc. (This can lock you into policies you never thought possible.)
  • Be sure it is consistent with your employment agreement.
  • Review it with your attorney and accountant.

Use it well!

This article is part of a series called Jeff's On Call.
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