Understanding How Much Does an Employee Handbook Cost: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Curious about how much does an employee handbook cost? Transparent and direct, we provide a detailed breakdown of expenses, whether you’re considering in-house production, outsourcing, or a digital tool. This detailed comparison will clear up confusion and lay out foreseeable costs impacting your handbook’s budget.

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of creating an employee handbook can vary widely, from $720 to $1,250 for in-house creation, to about $1,250 if outsourced to specialists; legal review adds further costs, typically $200-$350 per hour or a flat rate around $1,125.
  • A robust employee handbook should include legally mandated policies, an outline of company culture and values, and clear definitions of employee benefits and classifications to ensure compliance and effective communication.
  • Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) can aid in custom handbook development, offering expertise and compliance assurance, with costs ranging from 2-12% of employee wages, potentially providing cost savings and added benefits for small businesses.

Employee Handbook

The employee handbook serves as a comprehensive guide outlining the policies, procedures, and expectations that govern the employer-employee relationship within an organization. It is essential for all employees to familiarize themselves with the contents of the employee handbook to ensure compliance with company regulations and standards. From codes of conduct to benefits information, the employee handbook provides vital information to navigate the workplace effectively. Additionally, it serves as a reference point for resolving conflicts and addressing concerns, promoting a harmonious work environment. Regular updates to the employee handbook reflect evolving legal requirements and organizational changes, ensuring relevance and clarity for all stakeholders

Determining the Cost of Crafting an Effective Employee Handbook

Determining the Cost of Crafting an Effective Employee Handbook


The cost of crafting a robust employee handbook varies, primarily influenced by the size and specific needs of your company. Larger companies or those with more complex needs may face higher employee handbook cost due to increased requirements for customization and legal compliance. If you decide to create your handbook internally, you can expect costs to range from $720 to $1,250. Alternatively, if you choose to outsource the creation to a service provider, the cost will be around $1,250.

But, it’s not just about the cost. Choosing between creating an employee handbook in-house or outsourcing it goes beyond just the financial aspect. It’s about analyzing your capabilities, resources, and specific requirements.

In-House Creation vs. Outsourcing

In-house creation of an employee handbook might seem like a cost-effective option, but it requires a certain degree of expertise and time. You’ll need a good grasp of your company’s backstory, policies, and employee expectations. Additionally, assembling a handbook in-house requires a significant resource allocation, with the process often necessitating staff allocation for research, writing, and designing the handbook.

On the flip side, outsourcing the creation of an employee handbook to HR consultants or Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) provides access to specialized expertise and saves you the time and resources that would otherwise be spent on in-house creation. These experts can assist with:

  • Key rights
  • Company policies
  • Introducing company culture
  • Sharing policies and procedures
  • Offering support with onboarding
  • Personnel file management
  • Policy development
  • Workplace safety provisions

However, this professional guidance comes with a cost, typically averaging around $1,250, though costs can fluctuate depending on your specific needs.

Understanding How Much Does an Employee Handbook Cost: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Legal Review Expenses

The dance of creating an employee handbook also involves a legal partner, with expenses for legal review forming a crucial part of the overall cost. These expenses ensure your handbook’s compliance with relevant laws and regulations, offering protection for your business. This legal review typically costs somewhere between $200 to $350 per hour, or a flat fee rate of $1,125. The pricing of this review can be influenced by factors such as the use of a handbook builder, the level of customization required, and the need to include state-specific legal information.

Skipping the legal review and taking the floor alone can result in substantial liability, potentially leading to significant fines. A non-compliant handbook may even prove more detrimental than advantageous, violating state and federal laws and opening up your company to legal trouble.

Additional Costs: Printing and Distribution

Additional costs like printing and distribution are often overlooked when budgeting for an employee handbook. The size and format of the handbook can significantly influence the printing costs. Some factors to consider include:

  • The size of the handbook
  • The page format (standard or non-standard)
  • The number of copies needed
  • The printing method (bulk printing can help lower the cost per copy)

Considering these factors can help you determine the most cost-effective option for printing and distributing your employee handbook.

In today’s digital era, businesses also have the option to distribute the handbook digitally, through platforms like Handbooks.io or Blissbook. These platforms offer subscription costs typically ranging from $750 to $2,500. To keep costs low, businesses can opt for online handbooks to eliminate printing costs or choose affordable binding methods for physical copies.

Essential Components of a Compliant Employee Handbook

Essential Components of a Compliant Employee Handbook

After discussing the cost factors, we will now focus on the key components of a compliant employee handbook. While it’s not a legal requirement to have an employee handbook, state and federal laws do necessitate employers to provide specific information to employees. Therefore, incorporating pertinent legal policies in your handbook is highly recommended, ensuring compliance and facilitating transparent communication with employees.

That said, a compliant handbook is more than just a container of legal jargon. It’s a snapshot of your company’s culture and values, and a guide to your employee benefits and classifications. It defines your company’s mission and success parameters, emphasizing the traits that matter to your company using clear, attractive language that aligns with your culture. It also includes clear definitions and statuses for each employment category, providing employees with information about their employment status and corresponding benefits eligibility.

Legally Mandated Policies

We will now explore in detail the legally mandated policies that should be part of your handbook, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. These range from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specific reasons, to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities.

Another crucial policy is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which should be integrated into your handbook by articulating a comprehensive policy that prohibits employment discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • gender
  • religion
  • national origin
  • other protected characteristics

Including these legally mandated policies in your own employee handbook ensures compliance and provides a clear reference for both employers and employees on their rights and responsibilities.

Process Handbook Covers

Process handbook covers play a crucial role in guiding individuals through various procedures and protocols within an organization. These covers serve as visual aids, providing essential information and steps for employees to follow efficiently. Whether outlining safety procedures, workflow protocols, or compliance regulations, these covers serve as valuable resources for employees at all levels. They often feature clear instructions, diagrams, and reference materials to ensure easy comprehension and implementation. Additionally, process handbook covers may also incorporate branding elements to reinforce company identity and culture, further enhancing their effectiveness as educational tools within the workplace.

Company Culture and Values

In addition to legal policies, your handbook should also reflect your company’s culture and values. These elements of your handbook serve to establish clear expectations and provide guidance to employees on aligning their behavior and decision-making with the company’s core principles.

Effectively communicating your company’s values in your handbook involves:

  1. Defining your mission statement and core values
  2. Incorporating the values into your policies and procedures
  3. Providing examples and stories that bring your values to life

This not only informs employees about what’s important to your company but also fosters a sense of belonging and pride in your company culture.

Employee Benefits and Classifications

Your employee handbook should also clearly outline employee benefits and classifications. This section of your handbook may encompass insurance (medical, dental, life), stock options, and training opportunities.

Employee classifications should be based on employment types—such as full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract work. It’s crucial to include clear definitions and statuses for each category to provide employees with information about their employment status and corresponding benefits eligibility. For instance, you might want to articulate your paid time off policy as a structured system wherein employees accumulate a specific number of hours in a PTO bank for vacation or other authorized time off.

Additionally, your own handbook should explain your policies on leaves such as sick leave, parental leave, and sabbaticals.

Exploring Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) for Custom Handbook Development

Exploring Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) for Custom Handbook Development

After discussing the key components of an employee handbook, we will now shift our focus to Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). PEOs are third-party entities that oversee essential employment functions for a company, including the management of employee wages. They aid in custom handbook development by furnishing a comprehensive outline of company policies, procedures, benefits, and guidelines, thereby enhancing operational efficiency and mitigating potential conflicts.

PEOs provide a wide array of benefits, including:

  • Enhancing employee benefits
  • Ensuring compliance with employment laws
  • Saving time and money
  • Providing skill-based training programs
  • Lowering HR expenses
  • Enhancing employee morale
  • Minimizing liability
  • Managing employee benefits
  • Facilitating employee onboarding and training
  • Delivering a customizable employee handbook with access to an integrated HR management system

However, the cost of these services may range between 2-12% of wages, or $40 to $160 per month per employee.

Advantages of Using PEOs

PEOs not only relieve you of HR responsibilities but also offer considerable benefits. They optimize the development of employee handbooks by leveraging their expertise in areas such as:

  • reducing HR costs
  • improving training procedures
  • boosting employee morale
  • managing onboarding and training processes
  • maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations
  • minimizing company liability.

Beyond handbook development, PEOs contribute to the overall company efficiency by:

  • Improving employee benefits offerings
  • Ensuring compliance with employment laws
  • Reducing time and cost associated with handbook creation
  • Offering access to risk and compliance experts who are knowledgeable about the latest employment regulations
  • Providing ongoing support for employee handbook maintenance, ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

Comparing Costs

Despite the numerous benefits PEOs provide, it’s essential to consider these in relation to the cost. On average, a PEO partnership may cost approximately $50,000 for a 40-employee organization, whereas outsourcing to an HR agency can range between $1,500 and $5,000.

However, the cost benefits for small businesses that opt to use PEOs for employee handbook development are worth noting. PEOs can offer:

  • Affordable employee benefits
  • Lower HR administrative costs by an average of $450 per employee
  • Contribute to business expansion and decreased employee turnover.

The Investment in Legal Compliance: Avoiding Legal Trouble Through Your Handbook

Investment in Legal Compliance

Any discussion about employee handbooks would be incomplete without mentioning the significance of legal compliance. Engaging in collaboration with an attorney specializing in employment law can result in the enhancement of legal compliance within an employee handbook. This can be achieved through:

  • Leveraging their specialized knowledge and expertise
  • Ensuring alignment with applicable laws and regulations
  • Providing comprehensive education on legal rights and responsibilities for both employers and employees.

The typical cost of retaining an employment law attorney to review and update an employee handbook varies from $500 to $5,000, with a standard flat fee of $720. Regular updates and audits should be prioritized to ensure legal compliance.

Regular Updates and Audits

Regular updates and audits, while seeming tedious, are vital for maintaining a legally compliant work environment. They serve to maintain compliance with evolving labor laws and mitigate potential legal issues stemming from obsolete policies. Ideally, your handbook should be reviewed and updated at least annually, but this can be adjusted to every one to two years based on your organization’s needs and legislative changes impacting the workplace.

The process of auditing an employee handbook generally encompasses a thorough evaluation to assess clarity, accuracy, and alignment with policies and procedures. This review is essential for ensuring compliance with current labor laws and regulations, and may also involve conducting employee interviews to evaluate the effectiveness of HR practices. Overall, this process plays a crucial role in identifying HR risks, promoting compliance with labor laws, and establishing a legally sound work environment.

Collaborating with an Attorney Specializing in Employment Law

Collaborating with an attorney specializing in employment law can provide valuable guidance and ensure that your handbook is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. They ensure legal adherence and tailor the handbook to align with all regulations and specific workplace conditions. Additionally, they conduct regular reviews, typically on an annual basis, to identify and incorporate necessary updates in line with changes in the law.

The cost of engaging an employment law attorney for specific handbook support is approximately $1,250 in legal fees. This might seem like a significant expense, but consider it an investment in legal compliance and protection for your business.

Do-It-Yourself Handbook Wizard Tools: Are They Worth It?

Do-It-Yourself Handbook Wizard Tools

DIY handbook builders have gained popularity in the realm of employee handbooks due to their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. These tools offer:

  • Templates and guides to assist in the creation of customized, state-specific handbooks that align with a company’s policies and procedures
  • Customizable content
  • Smooth integration
  • Adherence to pertinent state and federal regulations
  • Features such as a rich text editor, content import, and interactive elements to improve user engagement

But are these DIY tools entirely flawless? The creation of an employee handbook using a DIY builder can vary in duration, typically ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks, based on the level of complexity and customization needed. Also, the utilization of a handbook builder tool generally incurs an average cost of $1,250.

Pros and Cons of Handbook Builders

Handbook builders bring several benefits to the table. They save time and resources by eliminating the need for manual creation and upkeep of the handbook. Moreover, cloud-based employee handbook software can assist small businesses in cutting costs by removing paper processes.

However, they are not without their downsides. Certain handbook builders may have restrictions in advanced customization options when compared to their competitors. Also, while these tools are designed to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws, there’s always a risk of potential legal issues if policies do not accurately reflect current laws.

Cost Comparison with Traditional Methods

Comparing the cost of using a handbook builder with traditional methods can help businesses make a more informed decision. On average, a handbook builder tool costs approximately $1,250, while traditional methods, such as hiring a professional writer or consultant, can range from $1,000 to $5,000.

While the upfront cost of a handbook builder might seem attractive, businesses should be aware of potential hidden costs. For example, employee dissatisfaction stemming from manual expense management and challenges in effectively communicating work rules could add to the total cost. However, the long-term savings derived from using an employee handbook builder tool can include decreased costs related to paper, ink, and printing maintenance, as well as the streamlining of HR processes and the automation of tasks like employee onboarding.

Balancing Quality and Expense: Tips for Business Owners

As a business owner, your goal should be to develop a compliant and effective employee handbook while keeping costs down. This delicate balance can be achieved by leveraging templates and online resources, and engaging HR professionals for targeted assistance.

Engaging HR professionals can provide valuable expertise and guarantee high-quality content, with an average cost of $1,250. This approach enables business owners to strike a balance between producing a professional, compliant handbook and managing expenses effectively.

Leveraging Templates and Online Resources

Templates and online resources can provide a cost-effective starting point for creating a custom employee handbook. You’ll find a wealth of online resources for obtaining employee handbook templates, including ClickUp, Blissbook, FlipHTML5, and the shrm employee handbook builder. However, customization and legal review are still necessary to ensure compliance and effectiveness.

Free Employee Templates

Free employee templates are invaluable resources for businesses seeking to streamline their HR processes. These templates cover a wide range of needs, from employee onboarding and performance evaluations to timesheets and leave requests. With these resources readily available, businesses can save time and effort in creating documents from scratch, ensuring consistency and compliance with regulations. Additionally, free employee templates often come with customizable features, allowing companies to tailor them to their specific requirements. By utilizing these templates, organizations can enhance efficiency, promote transparency, and foster better communication between employees and management.

Engaging HR Professionals for Targeted Assistance

HR professionals can provide valuable insights and guidance in the creation of an effective employee handbook. They play a crucial role in:

  • Ensuring adherence to legal regulations
  • Documenting company policies
  • Addressing essential topics including company values and employee rights and responsibilities.

The typical expense of engaging an HR professional for specific handbook support is approximately $1,250.


We embarked on this journey with the aim of unraveling the complexities of creating an employee handbook, and we’ve uncovered a wealth of information. From cost considerations and the role of PEOs to the importance of legal compliance and the pros and cons of handbook builders, we’ve explored different facets of this intricate process. As we conclude, remember that an employee handbook is more than a document — it’s a reflection of your company’s values, a guide for your employees, and a crucial tool for legal compliance. Striking a balance between quality and cost may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and resources, you’re well-equipped to create an effective and compliant handbook that aligns with your company’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should a small business have an employee handbook?

Yes, a small business should have an employee handbook as it helps inform employees about policies, procedures, and their rights, leading to smoother operations and preventing conflicts.

What is the value of employee handbook?

The employee handbook holds value as it sets expectations for conduct and performance, communicates workplace policies and procedures, and provides a common understanding within the team. This helps to maintain a cohesive and informed workforce.

Is it illegal to not have an employee handbook?

No, it is not illegal to not have an employee handbook. However, having one can help businesses document and prove their compliance with federal and state employment laws.

How many pages is the average employee handbook?

On average, an employee handbook should ideally be kept to a maximum of 30 to 40 pages to ensure policies are clear and attention is maintained. A longer handbook may not receive the necessary attention.

How much does a employee handbook cost?

Creating an employee handbook can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, with additional costs for each state’s requirements. It’s important to consider both the flat fee and hourly rate options when calculating the total expense.

Important Disclaimer:

Please be aware that the content on this page has been generated by using artificial intelligence language models and may contain errors, inconsistencies, or outdated information. It is provided as-is without any warranties or guarantees of accuracy.

We strongly recommend using this content as a starting point for further research. We disclaim any liability for damages or losses resulting from the use or reliance on this content.

Tehsin Bhayani

AirMason was born when Tehsin was trying to create a digital culture book, but couldn’t find any solutions in the market that had all the features he needed. In 2016, AirMason officially launched. In five years, AirMason has created thousands of handbooks for more than 1,000 clients around the world.

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