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Sample Employee Handbook

The League is pleased to provide this Sample Employee Handbook (PDF) as a resource for our members. This Sample includes common handbook provisions, but it does not include every policy that may be required for your particular organization. We intend it as a guide for drafting an initial handbook or to help assess revisions to your current handbook; it should not be adopted in its entirety and must be customized to address your current practices, policies, local ordinances, and how your organization operates. The Sample also envisions that lengthier policies such as those related to safety rules, technology, and ethics may be maintained outside of the confines of the Sample Handbook. For a more complete explanation of the benefits, pitfalls, and recommended content of handbooks, please read the June 2020 HR Matters column

An employment law attorney should review the final version of your organization’s handbook. This Sample Handbook does not constitute legal, accounting, or any other professional service or advice. Should you have questions about the Sample, please contact the League at email

HR Matters Columns Published in the League’s The Municipality 

By Lisa Bergersen, Principal Attorney at EngageHR Law, Of Counsel at Buelow Vetter, Former HR Director, City of Pewaukee

HR Matters Inaugural Column (PDF) August 2019
Employees 351: Human Resources (HR) is the management of people. Lisa Bergersen’s column, HR Matters, will offer HR basics, best practices and compliance information.  This inaugural column explains that HR matters because people are our greatest asset, it minimizes legal liability, improves service delivery, and organizations save time and money. Column details some resources for HR information.

I-9 Forms Matter (PDF) September 2019
Employees 352: HR Matters column article by Lisa Bergersen discussing requirements related to the federal I-9 employment verification form that must be completed for all paid employees.

Employees vs. Independent Contractor (PDF) October 2019
Employees 353: HR Matters column article by Lisa Bergersen about one potential area of cost savings for local governments - using independent contractors to perform municipal functions.

Diversity, Inclusion, Equal Employment Opportunity What’s the Difference? (PDF) November 2019
Employees 354: HR Matters column by Lisa Bergersen discussing what diversity, inclusion and equal employment opportunity mean in the workplace, why they’re important and how organizations can implement them. 

Lawful Hiring (PDF) December 2019
Employees 356: HR Matters column by Lisa Bergersen discusses various aspects of lawful hiring practices including: equal employment opportunity laws, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, and prohibited discrimination against protected classes.  

Positions Exempt from Overtime Under Federal Law (PDF) January 2020
Employees 357: HR Matters column by Lisa Bergersen details required factors for employees to come within white collar/executive, administrative, professional (EAP) exemptions from Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements, including salary thresholds and duties requirements.

Calculating the Regular Rate of Pay for FLSA Overtime (PDF) February 2020
Employees 358: Lisa Bergersen’s HR Matters column explains what constitutes “regular rate of pay” for purposes of calculating FLSA required overtime wages for non-exempt employees.

THC at Work (PDF) March 2020
Employees 359: HR Matters column by Lisa Bergersen discusses employee use of marijuana, THC, and CBD and how employers can manage issues in the workplace, including drug and alcohol policies, training managers and staff to recognize and address impairment, and conducting drug and alcohol testing.

Best Practices for Conducting Background Checks (PDF) April 2020
Employees 360: Column by Lisa Bergersen discusses best practices for conducting background checks, including what a background check should include and legal and practical considerations in performing background checks such as obtaining signed consent, credit checks, criminal records, social media inquiries, and working with screening companies.

Medical Inquiries, Examinations, and Privacy (PDF) May 2020
Employees 361: Column by Lisa Bergersen discussing legal restrictions pertaining to medical inquiries, examinations, and privacy in the employment relationship. The article outlines what is permissible or prohibited at each stage of the employee life cycle including during the application phase, inquiries following a bona fide conditional offer of employment, and medical inquiries/examinations of current employees. 

Handbooks - An HR Best Practice (PDF) June 2020
Employees 362: HR Matters column, by Attorney Lisa Bergersen, discussing the League’s Sample Employee handbook and the benefits, pitfalls, and recommended content of employee handbooks including disclaimers, legal provisions, and terms and conditions of employment.

How to Conduct a Sound Workplace Investigation (PDF) July 2020
Employees 363: Attorney Lisa Bergersen discussing how to conduct sound workplace investigations. The article includes several considerations to help ensure a timely, fair, objective, and thorough investigation, such as: proper timing of an investigation, taking interim measures when warranted, selecting the right investigator, planning the investigation, using proper interview techniques, gathering all potentially relevant evidence, and making a final decision.

Workplace Bullying and Harassment (PDF) August 2020
Employees 364: HR Matters column article offering practical solutions to address workplace bullying and harassment. The article discusses the difference between bullying and harassment, behavior that is unlawful under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act, and remedial and preventive measures employers can take.A

Five Important Facts About Compensatory Time (PDF) September 2020
Employees 365 HR Matters column article, by Attorney Lisa Bergersen, discussing five important facts about compensatory time for non-exempt employees, including: employee agreement to receive compensatory time, FLSA regulations regarding accrual and use, paying compensation time upon separation of employment, WRS late interest penalties that may apply to compensatory time carryover, and granting time off for extra hours to exempt employees.

Supervisors Matter (PDF) October 2020
Employees 366 HR Matters column article, by Attorney Lisa Bergersen, discussing five important facts about compensatory time for non-exempt employees, including: employee agreement to receive compensatory time, FLSA regulations regarding accrual and use, paying compensation time upon separation of employment, WRS late interest penalties that may apply to compensatory time carryover, and granting time off for extra hours to exempt employees.

Hiring/Interviewing (PDF) November 2020
by Elizabeth (Kazda) Yanke, MBA, Project Manager, League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Half the battle of hiring an employee is knowing what you are hiring for and putting that into words. There are many financial and legal considerations. What will it cost? Who’s budget does it come out of? Is this exempt or nonexempt? Interview Project Plan Checklist (Word-will download to your computer.)