Operations

How To Create An Employee Policy Handbook

Jim Luff
Posted on December 20, 2019

Former operator and LCT General Manager Jim Luff gave a presentation on creating an employee handbook that many found extremely helpful. (Photo: LCT file photo)

Former operator and LCT General Manager Jim Luff gave a presentation on creating an employee handbook that many found extremely helpful. (Photo: LCT file photo)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — One of the biggest factors in deciding to share my employee handbook with attendees of this session at LCT East on Nov. 3 was to provide value as well as create a launching point for small- to medium-size operators to create their own.

All companies should have a policy manual for many different reasons. However, finding the time to sit down and think about all the policies you might have for your company and putting them on paper can be a daunting task. My policies and the employee handbook we created for our own company summarizes 25 years of operations.

Why You Need a Policy Manual

Having a written policy manual ensures your customers will receive consistent service from each of your team members. From the moment a client contacts your company to place a reservation, the method for quoting, processing, and executing the trip should be exactly the same. A clear set of policies will drive the mission. Speaking of the mission, a good policy manual always begins with a great mission statement that defines your company as well as the fundamental goals and values of your company. Having a policy manual also allows a format for delivering information that is legally required such as information about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Reducing Liability

Providing information in a company handbook about sexual harassment in the workplace is a legal requirement. Having a clear policy about what defines sexual harassment, how and who to report it to, and how investigations are handled can reduce some liability caused at the hands of others. While you are legally obligated to protect employees from any abuse, you will look conscientious to a jury when an employee accuses another employee of harassment if policies are in place and you have a signature from the offending employee acknowledging they have received the policy and understand it.

The same can be said for an employee who has a collision while texting. A clear policy that states texting and driving is never allowed shows your company is attentive to safety and that the employee violated the policy. Simply having a professional policy manual can demonstrate to your employees, clients, affiliates, and a jury that your company runs in a professional manner.

Where to Begin

Building a company handbook from scratch can be a daunting task. There are so many components of operating a ground transportation company that it can be difficult to know what should be included in a comprehensive policy manual. I chose to break mine into 15 chapters that begin with a welcome to your new employee in Chapter 1 and ends with a signature page in Chapter 15 that includes the Statement of Understanding.

Chapter 1: Welcome

The welcome chapter should include the history of your company (your employees should know your roots), a mission statement, the purpose of your policy manual, and clarification that your relationship is an at-will.

Chapter 2: Workplace Commitments

Chapter 2 should take care of legal and moral issues such as being an Equal Opportunity Employer with anti-discrimination policies in place, a harassment-free environment, as well as policies on drug and alcohol abuse and who to report violations to.

Chapter 3: Company Policies & Procedures Overview

The main policy section covers employee conduct, pay periods and pay dates, rules about company property provided to employees such as phones, tablets, etc., and how to communicate within the company. It should also include any policies regarding social media, privacy matters, personnel files, and forms and procedures such as accident reports. This section can also include policies about smoking while on duty, outside employment, and dress code.

For chauffeurs, this section should cover how to set-up a vehicle for passenger service, fueling, trip tickets, affiliate trips, wait time, and all other things a chauffeur would be expected to know and follow while delivering service. Don’t forget to create a clear policy for handling drunk, obnoxious, or disruptive passengers when a ride needs to be terminated. Do not leave this important function to the chauffeur’s discretion without providing some guidelines.

Chapter 4: Positions Within

Luff touched on many pain points of operators, and helped them start thinking about what to include in their own handbooks. (Photo: LCT file photo)

Luff touched on many pain points of operators, and helped them start thinking about what to include in their own handbooks. (Photo: LCT file photo)

In this section, clearly define every single position in your company with a job sheet that defines the roles of the position, the salary range, and educational or licensing requirements. Your employees should aspire to promote from within, but need to know what roles people play.

Chapter 5: Attendance & Scheduling

Employees need to know how they get their schedule as well as general attendance policies, sick leave, jury pay, and on-call assignments.

Chapter 6: Benefits

This is the area where you define not only any benefits you might offer such as health care, paid time off, use of limousines, etc., but a good place to include information about Workers Compensation and Disability matters.

Chapter 7: Work Performance

Clearly define your expectations of employees as well as clarify how you review the performance of employees. Don’t forget to address how you handle poor performance or insubordination issues that may arise. If you have a method for collecting client evaluations such as a company requested passenger review, make sure your employees know that.

Chapter 8: Leave Policies

Your employee may need time off due to vacation, illness, jury duty, military training, or even to vote. Make sure you have a policy for each of these situations.

Chapter 9: Employee Health & Safety

This section should cover workplace safety such as proper lifting techniques as well as building security, special concerns for late night or early morning trips, as well as general emergency instructions such as building evacuations in an emergency.

Chapter 10: Discipline Policy

Having fair and consistent discipline policies ensures each employee is treated the same for discipline matters. This section should contain an overview of what might cause disciplinary actions or termination. Have a clear procedure for handing voluntary and involuntary terminations, final paychecks, and exit interview procedures.

Chapter 10: Airport Operations

Because airport work is such a major part of the industry, devoting an entire chapter to all things airport-related such as how and where to meet passengers at various airports served is important. Other specifics such as trip permits, parking, restroom facilities, etc. should be covered for each airport served.

Chapter 11: Vehicle Inspections

Because our vehicles are the main assets of our business, the care of them is vital. The best care is through daily inspections as well as routine maintenance. This is the section to share the importance of inspections and how to perform the physical inspections themselves.

Chapter 12: Chauffeur Training Program

This chapter is devoted to your formal chauffeur training program from the time an employee is hired until they are ready to begin their driving service with the company.

Chapter 13: Transporting Minors / Passengers Under 21 Years of Age

Proms, quinceaneras, cotillions, formals, and even 18th birthdays are all popular reasons for chartering a luxury vehicle. Ensuring alcohol is not served or consumed by minors is an important role of the chauffeur. If you use a “prom contract” or something similar, this is the place to include it. Operators in California are required to comply with the Studebaker law and are expected to know what the rules are under State law.

Chapter 14: Miscellaneous

Luff provided helpful tips for anyone looking to improve or create an employee handbook from scratch. (Photo: LCT file photo)

Luff provided helpful tips for anyone looking to improve or create an employee handbook from scratch. (Photo: LCT file photo)

This chapter is where everything else goes. This can include recommended tools of the professional chauffeur, requests for donations to charitable events, office access, on-duty meal periods, and similar content that didn’t fit anywhere else.

Chapter 15: Acknowledgement of Receipt & Understanding

This final chapter contains two copies (one for the employee and one for the company) of a statement that acknowledges the employee has been presented with this policy handbook, understands all components, and agrees to adhere to them. It reiterates the employment relationship is one considered to be at-will.

Attendees of this session at LCT East were provided with an electronic copy of an entire policy handbook that can be edited to suit their unique and individual needs. This is an example of the type of quality education provided at LCT shows that truly helps an operator thrive with success.

Related Topics: 2019 LCT East, Atlantic city, business management, casinos, employee management, hotels, industry education, Jim Luff, LCT Events, LCT Events Education Series, limo tradeshows, staff management, tradeshows

Jim Luff General Manager
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