Your staff handbook is the blueprint for your Early Learning Service or OSHC operations. By creating a staff handbook, you can ensure that your employees are aware of your service values, beliefs, and expectations. Your employee handbook also offers a level of protection when situations arise as protocols are clearly outlined. Use your employee handbook as a guide to help staff members thrive and seamlessly integrate into your service.
Creating your employee handbook can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure what information to include. Based on your state and the size of your service, your staff handbook will have different requirements. It’s important to include as much information as possible so both you and your staff members have a frame of reference. In this post, we’ll outline the importance of your employee handbook and suggest what to include.
The Importance of an Employee Handbook
An employee handbook outlines policies and procedures your staff are expected to understand and follow. This can also be used as a support tool to help with staff onboarding and training.
Think of your handbook as a roadmap when it comes to operating your service.
When situations arise at your early learning of OSHC service, you’ll be able to reference your handbook for guidance on handling the situation. Your employee handbook will clearly outline the rules at your service along with the expectations and responsibilities of your staff. This ensures all staff are on the same page, helps avoid conflict, and creates a unified company culture.
What to Include in Your Employee Handbook
Your employee handbook should cover the ins and outs of working at your service. This will include job descriptions, dress code requirements, time-off procedures, conduct policies, and more.
The introduction to your handbook will provide a high-level overview of your service. Include a welcome letter to your staff, the history of your service, and your service mission and vision. This will clearly outline your service’s brand and values, setting the tone for future expectations.
To begin you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with relevant employment relations and health and safety legislation. This will help you understand what you need to offer in terms of leave, sick leave, etc. You should also look into what your state licensing regulations require in regards to a handbook. Some have specific requirements but others do not.
Job Description and Details
Next, outline the various job descriptions and responsibilities of various positions at your service. Be sure to include information like offered benefits, time-off, company holidays, number of sick days, etc.
Your policies and service operating information will take up a large portion of your handbook as they outline protocol and set your expectations of staff members. Be sure to include the following policies in your handbook:
- Phone usage
- Drugs and alcohol
- Absenteeism and tardiness
- Time-off requests
- Sexual harassment
- Dress code
Service Operating Information
Your service operation policies include the day-to-day functions of your service. Be sure to include the following information so all staff and parents understand your service protocol:
- Outline of your services spaces
- Pick-up and drop-off policy
- Software used (If your service uses a software program like Kangarootime, outline the software features, how the software should be used, and any training staff is expected to take)
- Curriculum information
- Nappy and toileting policy
- Closing procedures
- Parent communication guidelines
- Sick child policy
- Suspected abuse information
- Social media/photography policies
- Classroom management (cleaning, safety, etc.)
When in doubt, always reference ACECQA.
Orientation and Training Information
When new staff members join your service, make sure they’re aware of how they’ll be onboarded. Include any orientation or training information in your handbook. Whether they’ll use training materials, shadow an educator, or have a mentor, make sure they’re fully aware of these procedures.
If your service is closing due to inclement weather, experiences a medical emergency or a fire outbreak, etc., make sure a plan is in place. Outline your emergency procedures in your handbook to help ensure the safety of both your staff and the children in your care.
Include your services contact information along with who staff should contact if they have questions or concerns regarding the handbook. You can also use this section to collect your staff member’s contact information.
Finally, have you and your staff members sign your handbook as a sign that you both have read it and agree to the terms.