How much should I pay for an Employee Handbook?

What does it cost to get an Employee Handbook?  Many wonder how much they should pay for an employee handbook.  That price really depends on which of the following three paths you choose to follow:

1. Do-it-Yourself Path: Many consider buying an employee handbook template online, which can cost from $50 to $350 or more.  A decent one will cost you at least $200.  The features such a template must have are:

  • Does the template include state-specific sections?  Many regulations differ by state, such as overtime, discrimination laws, jury duty, vacation pay, etc.
  • Does the template include size-specific sections?  Some regulations differ also by size, including FMLA, Pregnancy Leave, Sick Leave, etc.

Even if the employee handbook template you purchase is a decent one, expect to invest 100-140 work hours into research, editing, and customizing.  You will need to become familiar with your state’s labor laws to make sure the final handbook complies to state laws.  Most templates are purchased online.

A good example of a quality template software program can be purchased from the California Chamber of Commerce (obviously specific to that state):

2. HR Consultants and Business Consultants path:  This is the best value for most organizations.  Hire a consulting company to create your Employee Handbook.  The consulting company will conduct an interview to determine your current employee policies and survey what will be required considering your industry, location, and size.  Pricing usually runs between $1,500 and $3,000, so it initially costs more than the DIY path, but in reality it will save you both time and money. Consider the following HR consulting companies for your employee handbook designing services:

Employee Handbook for Businesses

Employee Handbook for Churches or Ministries

In addition, a Consulting Company can add custom policies that are unique to your organization, which a template would not offer. The consultant cannot provide you any legal advice (unless the person is also a lawyer) but usually the consultant builds a customized employee handbook using a high-end, lawyer-approved template.

3. Attorney-approved Path:  This route is by far the most expensive for an organization.  Hiring a Labor Lawyer to design an employee handbook can cost $5,000 to $9,000 or even more.  Is it worth the price?  Yes, if you run a highly regulated business or one considered to be at  high-risk for lawsuits.   Be sure to find a lawyer who focuses on employer needs, since many labor lawyers make their money representing employees suing their employers.

By having a lawyer design your employee handbook, you are getting that added assurance of his or her legal review of the document.  Some companies (in order to save money) will create their employee handbook by other means but then pay a lawyer to REVIEW it, which is usually much cheaper than having the lawyer also creating it.

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