Can I require all new hires to sign the employee handbook?

Lisa Lewis asked 2 months ago
We’d like to have sign off on our handbook for all employees for record-keeping purposes. Are their downsides to requiring this?
1 Answer
Riia O’Donnell replied 2 months ago
As a business owner you can ask employees to do just about anything – hopefully legal! But are you prepared to terminate, or rescind a job offer, if they refuse?

The purpose of a handbook signature is to verify employees understand and agree to comply with the rules and policies it outlines. If a new hire is intimidated by having to sign, you may want to explain the reason you need their signature more carefully.

The handbook provides information about working at the company – pay periods, benefits, leave requests, their rights, etc. The handbook also outlines actions and behaviors to avoid to stay employed. It provides the rules of the game – and that makes it easier to play.

If you’re a union shop, required signatures should be negotiated.

Assuming you aren’t, if a new hire refuses to sign, you have options:

Bring in another staff member to sign, date and witness the employee was issued the handbook and informed of their responsibility to read and adhere to its rules and guidelines.

Is there a language barrier? Some staffers are challenged by written words, even though they speak fluently. Could a translated version help?

A final option is to review the handbook together, explaining each of the rules and guidelines. They may be more comfortable signing it afterward, or you can verify in writing you went through the book orally with the employee.

The downside to any employee ‘requirement’ is your willingness to take action if they refuse.