What is a personnel manual? Create your template

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A personnel manual helps you introduce your way of working to new hires, while reminding existing employees of your company’s policies, expectations and procedures.

Read on to find out why your business might need a personnel manual, what it should include, and how to create one.

What is a personnel manual?

A personnel manual gives your employees an overview of what is expected of them, as well as what they can expect from you when it comes to paid time off.

Employees can use the staff manual to find information on what to do in a variety of situations, from maternity leave to using the internet while on the job.

A well-designed staff manual helps you communicate with staff, while keeping them well informed.

You can use a staff manual to reiterate contractual issues such as homework and work pensions. It can also be used to highlight non-contractual issues such as company values ​​or statutory rights such as sick pay.

Why do businesses need a personnel manual?

Although having a staff manual is not a legal requirement for UK businesses, it is very useful for communicating with staff and enforcing your employment policies.

Here are some of the main benefits:

  • it reduces legal risks – if an employee wanted to bring you to justice, a manual that shows the policies you have in place could be invaluable

  • it improves consistency – everyone must meet the same standards set out in the manual, with a central document to refer to

  • it saves time for HR staff – instead of every staff query taking time for your HR department, employees can refer to the manual

  • it improves relations with the staff – a staff manual is an excellent communication tool, helping to keep staff engaged and informed

What should a personnel manual contain?

It depends on whether you want to integrate the personnel manual into your employee’s contracts or create a non-contractual manual.

If your manual is not contractual, you can change policies and procedures without the employees agreeing. On the other hand, if the manual is incorporated into staff contracts, they can negotiate policies.

You can use the manual to reiterate policies outlined in employee contracts, such as workplace pensions and a health and safety policy (if you have more than five employees).

Many personnel manuals also contain information on the equal opportunities policy and the dignity at work policy of the company.

Here are some of the other policies you might want to include in the manual:

HR policies for staff

A staff manual should also include your company’s HR policies on topics such as:

We’ve partnered with Farillio to create a range of customizable and downloadable templates, to help you stay on top of important employment policies:

What else can you include in your personnel manual?

Some companies use a staff manual to set their dress code and delay expectations.

A staff manual could also include key business goals, as well as an overview of the culture and values ​​of the company.

When should you give employees a copy of the personnel manual?

It is worth giving employees a copy of the personnel manual upon joining or during their onboarding process. This allows them to read and ask questions during their trial period.

You will also need to reissue the manual to all staff whenever it is updated, for example if your vacation postponement policy changes.

How often should you review the personnel manual?

A staff manual should be revised about once a year, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

If you update the contract policies in the manual, you will need to consult with staff and get their agreement before making any changes. This helps protect you against breach of contract claims.

As mentioned above, you can make changes to non-binding policies without asking staff.

How to create a personnel manual

Most personnel manuals will follow a simple structure with an introduction, followed by an overview of policies, then additional information such as business goals and company values.

It is best to keep the manual as short as possible, even though it should include all the key information. A layout and easy-to-understand images will help make it accessible to staff.

When writing the manual, make sure it matches your brand’s tone. In addition, use plain language whenever possible, so that it is easy to read and understand.

How should the personnel manual be presented?

You can email PDF copies of the manual to staff or give them a physical copy. Alternatively, you can upload the latest version to an online hub or shared drive for staff to download.

It is important that staff acknowledge that they have received the manual and have read it in its entirety, especially if you have included contractual policies. They could do this by giving written confirmation in an email, checking a box, or signing a physical or digital copy of the manual.

Make sure staff are aware of the manual

Creating a manual is a good start, but you need to make sure it is read by all staff and referenced by managers when dealing with their teams.

If you were taken to court and it became apparent that the staff were not aware of the policies in the manual, this could be a problem for you.

Additionally, getting staff buy-in increases the chances of consistency, new hires adapt quickly, and managers are able to deal with issues quickly without involving HR or giving bad advice.

Staff manual template

The sample staff manuals can help you determine what to include and how the information might be presented.

You can download a staff manual template from the Human Resource Solutions website.

It is important that you only use one template as a guide and that you customize it with your company policies and procedures.

Please use this article as a guide only. Before creating a personnel manual, be sure to get legal advice on contractual matters, as well as support from an HR professional.

Photograph 1: Svitlana / stock.adobe.com


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