About Your Employee Handbook

This provision should be one of the first in the handbook. Because some courts have treated personnel handbooks as employment contracts, it’s important to include the following language:

  • “This handbook is a general statement of policy and serves as a guideline rather than an absolute rule.”

    This statement gives your organization flexibility in making employment decisions. While consistency in treatment of employees is important, there may be unique situations that require some deviation from the written policies.
  • “This handbook is not an employment contract, and employment is at-will unless otherwise provided by an employment contract.”

    It’s important to make it clear that the handbook should not be construed as a contract. It’s also important that the employees’ at-will status is explained to them so they understand that the employment relationship may be ended by either party, at any time, for any lawful reason. If an employment contract exists, make sure that the contract doesn’t contradict the handbook. If it does, the employment contract will most likely control.
  • “The organization can modify any provision or benefit in the handbook at any time.”

    An employee handbook is usually a dynamic document that changes over time as the needs of the organization change. Include this language to provide flexibility in modifying your benefits and guidelines. If this language isn’t included, employees may have a legal cause of action when benefits are deleted or modified.
  • “This handbook supersedes all previous handbooks, policies, and guidelines.”

    This sentence is important from both a procedural and a legal perspective. Collect previous handbooks when distributing the new handbooks. This will help ensure that there is no confusion about which policies are currently in place.

In addition to the items above, your organization may wish to include its mission statement in this policy. Doing so is especially important for Christian colleges and universities. It can be a helpful tool to inform employees about your organization’s mission and vision.


We have prepared this handbook as a general statement of our policy and as a guide for general information that should assist you during your employment. The provisions of this handbook are designed to serve as guidelines rather than absolute rules. Exceptions may be made, from time to time, due to particular circumstances.

This employee handbook does not constitute a contract for employment with (name of organization) either expressed or implied. Employment at (name of organization) is at-will, unless otherwise provided by an employment contract.

The statements contained in this handbook do not limit the right of either this organization or the employee to terminate the employee’s employment or compensation, with or without cause or notice, at any time, for any reason not contrary to law.

Further, this organization reserves the right—at any time—to change, delete, or add to any of the provisions or  benefits, in its sole discretion.

This employee handbook supersedes all prior oral or written handbooks, policies, and guidelines.

Note: If you have executed an employment contract with (name of organization), this handbook is intended to accompany and complement that contract. If a discrepancy exists between this employee handbook and the employment contract, the language of the employment contract controls.

This is a sample handbook policy only. Your organization is responsible for compliance with all applicable laws. Accordingly, this document should not be used or adopted by your organization without first being reviewed and approved by a licensed attorney in your area. Brotherhood Mutual assumes no liability in preparation and distribution of this sample document.

Working Together © 2021 Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.
www.brotherhoodmutual.com/working-together. Update 9/2021.