The rights and obligations of the employer and the employee are set out in law, the employment contract and, often, a CLA. The law advocates the vague standard of good employment practices and being a good employee. In addition, the law determines that the employer has far-reaching authority to give instructions to the employee on how to behave within the company in order to promote good order in the company. Employers use a personnel manual, terms and conditions of employment and protocols to record internal rules of conduct through which to advise employees on what behaviours are not acceptable. The lawyers of GMW lawyers in The Hague have drafted many such personnel manuals and different protocols for numerous employers. 

Personnel manual content

Personnel manuals, regulations and protocols include rules on:

  • Email and internet use
  • Manner of communication via social media such as Twitter, Facebook
  • Sickness absence
  • Suspension and non-activity
  • Clothing regulations
  • Use of alcohol and drugs
  • Breaks
  • Special leave for marriage, death, moving house
  • Sexual intimidation and discrimination
  • Sanctions for undesirable behaviour
  • Lease cars
  • Study and training

Business interest

When drafting internal rules on such issues, the specific business interest must always be kept in mind. After all, each organisation has a different culture and image and this will be expressed in a set of rules with various levels of details and/or strictness. When introducing or amending a personnel manual or protocols on issues like social media, sexual intimidation and absenteeism, the relationship with already existing statutory rules, on leave for instance, and the relation with CLA provisions must be taken into account.

Forewarned is forearmed

Personnel manuals, company regulations and protocols are organic documents and not telephone directory-size documents which end their lives in a cupboard somewhere. They must be kept up to date on the basis of changes in (employment) law, case law and the company or sector in which the employer operates. Of course, it is also important that (amendments to) personnel regulations are notified to the employees and are applied in a consistent manner. The importance of this has been confirmed by case law: an employer can more successfully impose a disciplinary sanction on an employee if it has drawn the employee’s attention to the obligations in a personnel manual and the employer upholds the rules included in comparable cases in a consistent manner. The saying “forewarned is forearmed” holds true here.

Organic document

The personnel manual, the terms and conditions of employment, are organic documents. To maintain their value, to be able to address employees on their conduct, an employer must always keep the regulations and protocols up to date. The employment lawyers of GMW lawyers draw the company’s attention to the relevant (legislative) changes and they subsequently review with the company the need to make amendments.

Further information

Do you have questions about employment or do you wish to discuss a case? Please contact the section Employment & Pension.