Custom Employee Handbooks

Thank you for your interest in a custom employee handbook from VHA! This survey will take you step by step through all the areas required in a Minnesota employee manual. Simply answer the questions and feel free to add questions or requests in your responses; this form is a guide but the final product should be exactly what you want it to be, while still conforming with employment law.  Please check all categories you would like included in your personal practice"s employee handbook. You will notice that certain areas are marked as [INCLUDED]. These are recommended in all employee handbooks to comply with labor laws and to reduce any potential future liabilities resulting from litigation levied by former employees. The goal of the handbook is to provide your employees and you with a clear list of policies and procedures that govern the employee relationship and to secure a signed acknowledgement of their understanding of those policies.


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Employee Handbook Questionnaire

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Welcome Statement

This is your chance to "sell" the practice philosophy to a captive audience. Your new employee is still evaluating their decision to join your practice and is eager to learn about what you do there. If you have a Mission or Vision Statement, this is a great place to outline it, as well as basic practice philosophies. A disclaimer about the nature of the handbook is [INCLUDED] in this section as well.

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Practice Hours

What days and hours is the practice open?

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Environment

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The Work Week

Minnesota Law states that employers must pay overtime after 48 hours per week, not 40, but the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] requires some employers to pay overtime after 40 hours. So which applies to your practice? If your practice has gross annual sales of more than $500,000, the FLSA 40 hour standard applies.

Even if your particular practice is below this sales level, you should seriously consider offering overtime pay at 40 rather than 48 hours. Since nearly all veterinary practices fall into the >$500K revenue category and must pay overtime at 40 hours, matching that helps to make your employment packages competitive.

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Definition of Full- and Part-Time

[INCLUDED] For benefit and payroll purposes you need a clear definition of how many hours per week are considered to be Full Time.

Forty [40] hours per week is technically "full time", but if your support staff works flexible schedules and is not allowed overtime, they may work an average of 35-39 hours. It's important in those situations that you establish an equitable definition of full time that is realistic and attainable for your practice.

Furthermore, if you offer health insurance or a retirement plan, your group insurance contract or retirement plan documentation may include a definition of full time as well. Be sure all of these definitions match one another.

One of the benefits of employing part-time staff is the cost savings on benefits. There is no law or regulation requiring you to offer benefits to both full- and part-time employees, but if you choose to do so, it's important that you spell out the differences to your employees so there is no confusion later.

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Drug and Alcohol-Free Policy

This may seem obvious to you, but if not explicitly explained, employees terminated for drug use may have an opening for a wrongful termination suit. It is particularly critical in practices that carry schedule one controlled drugs. Please check any of the following that apply.

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Lunch Breaks

In Minnesota, employers are required by law to provide restroom breaks and sufficient time to eat a meal. Any breaks that are shorter than 20 minutes must be counted as paid time. If an employee works more than 8 consecutive hours on a shift, they must be allowed to take a meal break. It can be unpaid, as long as it is 30 minutes or more in duration and the employee is completely relieved from duty during that period.

Some clinics have their staff "eat lunch on the fly" or ask that employees continue to answer phones or perform other tasks during their meal break. In those cases, the time must be paid as hours worked.

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Smoking

The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act requires designated smoking areas if smoking is allowed.

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Attendance Details

Please describe the following:
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Meetings
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Insurance Benefits
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Leaves of Absence

The federal government requires certain leave of absence protections for employees with 50 or more employees. The State of MN has other protections for employers of any size.

These state and federal standards will be included, but if you offer any additional leave benefits, please indicate them below.

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Facility Shutdown

In the event of a facility shut down due to fire, flooding, weather damage, construction, terror attack, or other reasons, some businesses will offer to reimburse employees for lost pay. This is not required and is completely optional.

Some loss-of-business insurance policies will cover some or all of this benefit.

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Continuing Education Benefits*

*Do not include continuing education benefit details for associate veterinarians unless they are non-contract employees.

The CE dollar amount offered to full-time employee varies greatly, but on average:
- 64% of practices offer CE allowances to Technicians at an average of $445 per year.
- 58% of practices offer CE allowances to Managers at an average of $750 per year.
- 29% of practices offer CE allowances to Other Staff at an average of $352 per year.

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Uniform Benefits

71% of practices offer up to four sets of uniforms annual to full-time technicians, 54% to managers, and 53% to other staff.

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Employee Purchase Discounts

If you offer employee discounts, be advised that any discount greater than 20% must be reported to the IRS as taxable income for the employee receiving the benefit. The tax law states that you may sell inventory at cost plus 10% to cover shipping, handling, taxes, etc. but discounts on services cannot exceed 20%.

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Disciplinary Actions

The primary purpose of documenting disciplinary actions taken against employees is to create a record of your efforts to improve or correct the employee's performance or behavior. These documents can be of critical value to your position if the employee is ever terminated.

Best practice is to document and sign verbal warnings and to have a witness present when delivering a written warning or termination. This individual can then sign the warning if the employee refuses to do so.

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Security
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Parking
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Safety/OSHA
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Comments
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