General Work Rules

Instead of having a lengthy, involved set of rules, you may opt for a simple list of rules and guidelines to make it clear to employees what kind of behavior you expect.

We recommend that you keep the rules as general as possible, to give yourself as much flexibility as possible in enforcing them. Your work rules should reflect your individualism as a businessperson and the individuality of your business. You can create a simple one- or two-page handout that you give to each person as you hire them, covering such things as:

Be sure to begin your list of rules with a statement like the following:

"It would be impractical to set forth a list of all activities that are considered to be illegal or contrary to good business practices and good employee-employer relations. This is intended only as a guideline."

All your rules should be reasonable and clearly related to the safe and efficient operation of the business. In general, it's not necessary to say that things like stealing, insubordination, or competing with your business are prohibited. Employees are expected to know these things, although you can create a written rule if you wish.

You may decide to explain why you have chosen specific rules for inclusion, and you may even assign a point system to offenses (much like a system of demerits).

You may also want to explain the consequences and discipline an employee may expect for breaking the rules or for racking up too many demerits. However, once again we recommend that you build some flexibility into your system by including a general statement that "any employee found engaging in these behaviors will be subject to disciplinary actions including reprimand, warning, layoff, or dismissal."

You should definitely include a disclaimer saying that the list of work rules is not intended to be an employment contract.

Business Tools

The Business Tools area contains a sample of general work rules that you can use as a guide in creating your own set of work rules. Use this example as a guide for formulating your own general work rules. You may add or subtract from that as needed, but remember to make sure that each rule is reasonable and that each rule is appropriate.