Recent College Grad New Hire Need-to-Knows #1: The Employee Handbook

employee-handbookSo, you’ve landed your first job out of college. Rather than paying tuition and cramming for finals, you’ll now be working for a steady paycheck – and while it’s exciting to visualize all the things you’ll buy and save up for with your new salary, it’s also crucial to get familiar with the legal side of your employment.

Starting with this piece, we’ll be doing a series on new hire employment topics you should consider when entering your first job post-graduation, or as a new hire in the modern workplace. We begin with the employee handbook.

Seeing as the employee handbook is a company-specific roadmap to your employment, it’s an important item to be familiar with – it is akin to your “bible” for the workplace. When done well, it provides you the roadmap for understanding your company or organization’s mission, vision, and values, along with the policy and other considerations that are important to your organization.  From emergency contact forms and dress code policies to issues of anti-harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, your handbook is your best friend in the workplace, as you’ll discover.


First Day Orientation

It’s unlikely that you’ll be actually working on your first day. Rather, your first day is typically reserved for your new hire orientation and a bit of training. This is where you’ll first be introduced to your company-specific employee handbook. Some are short and thin, while others read like a novel. Either way, here are some provisions that you’ll likely go over during your new hire orientation:

Employment Forms

Before diving into your employee handbook, you’ll complete any necessary insurance documents, tax paperwork, emergency contact forms, and benefits forms.

Office Dress Code

Whether your office prefers a formal dress code or something more casual, you’ll be informed of it either on your first day or prior to it.

Office Access

Your office may have a key fob or access card for you to use when accessing the building, which you’ll receive on your first day. 

Safety Procedures

Any protocols in place to handle health and safety issues, such as where the first aid kit is located, will be found here.

Employee Resources

Here, you’ll find out whether your company offers employee assistance programs (EAPs), such as counseling, advisory services, or a mental health hotline.

These are more general policies that, while still important, don’t necessarily outline your protections as an employee. Though if you keep flipping through your handbook, you’ll find sections on anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, and no retaliation provisions. 

These are usually found under a Code of Conduct section, or under your Company Policies. Here, your employer should’ve specified their anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, alongside responses to other events like conflicts of interest and rules pertaining to fraternization with coworkers. This section is usually followed by a section explaining the company’s standard for reporting prohibited behavior and serves as a guide for employees to follow when making a complaint. 


Along with helping you understand your company’s policies and responses to certain offenses, your employee handbook is a great resource to turn to if you have any general questions pertaining to your employment. Will your performance reviews take place quarterly, or biannually? What’s the company policy for personal leaves of absence, and are they paid? Is your parking paid for? These questions and more can be answered by browsing through your employee handbook. 

As a newbie to the workplace, it can be easy to start your role without getting familiar with your employee handbook. Be thorough and prepared for your employment by understanding how your company operates and responds to certain internal offenses, so that you know what to expect in a given situation. 

Listen to this recent Hack My Business episode for Angela’s insights on the significance of your employee handbook, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn at angelareddock-wright, and tune-in to her radio show KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11am PST, or catch past episodes on For media inquiries for Angela, please reach out to


Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times,, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.

Reddock-Wright has also launched her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, airing on Tavis Smiley’s new KBLA Talk 1580 radio station on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. PT with replays on subsequent Sundays. Listeners may tune-in by downloading the APP @kbla1580 and call the PowerLines at 1-800-920-1580.  You can listen to past episodes on Anchor.Fm/Spotify.

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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