Commissioning an employee handbook can be expensive.
The consultants we spoke to
charge $1,000 to $5,000 and up. No surprise that many entrepreneurs
undertake the effort on their own. But be warned: Many start with the employee handbook of another company and substitute their own name--and end up adhering to laws that, say, wouldn't ordinarily apply to small businesses.
You can find software or downloadable forms to create your own employee manual, often for $100 to $200 (see "Resources," below). If you go this route, be prepared to rewrite. A good
manual "reflects the intent and spirit of the owner," says Casey Willson, a Maryland-based
retail and restaurant consultant. "When you get into boilerplate,
it becomes a protective device
rather than an enabling device."
And though you will definitely want an employment lawyer to
review your handiwork, don't hire one to write the handbook for you. "It's like having an electrical engineer change a light switch for you," says Galbreath. "This is a practical document, not a legal document."
You will find guides to federal labor laws at osha.gov and small-business resources and contact information for state labor agencies at dol.gov.
The Society for Human Resource Management has a directory of HR consultants at shrm.org.
a free model handbook. The Alexander Hamilton Institute's Complete Policy Handbook
($100) is a CD-ROM with editable policies with state-by-state guidelines. And Policies Now is a deluxe program (hrtools.com; $199) that uses a Q&A wizard to help you customize a manual.