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Wyoming Business Tips for Aug. 14-20

August 5, 2016

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Susan Jerke, WSBDC regional director

“Is an employee handbook a ‘must-have’ for my business?” Christine, Cody

Although there is no law that requires a company to have a personnel handbook, it can be a wonderful tool to communicate your workplace culture, expectations and policies.

You may think your business is too small or too informal but, as the business grows, be glad you implemented policies from the beginning. A handbook doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it will serve as a tool to convey the at-will status of employees; give them a sense of their rights and responsibilities; set guidelines for workplace consistency; and create the tone of a professional work environment.

Some things to consider when crafting policies and topics that can be included: benefits and details (vacation, sick leave, family/bereavement leave, jury duty); holidays; background checks and/or drug testing; compensation/overtime pay; dress code; anti-harassment policy; social media/phone expectations; smoking (smoke-free or designated areas); meal/rest breaks; and lactation/breastfeeding accommodations.

Even the use of artificial or natural fragrances can be addressed in your handbook. It is impossible to plan for every contingency, but having a solid, easy-to-understand handbook is a step in the right direction for setting examples for employees to follow.

Before finalizing a document, you may wish to consult an attorney or human resource specialist, but templates are available from the Wyoming SBDC Network to help organize your thoughts when beginning the process of developing a handbook that is customized for an individual business.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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