Employee handbooks are important tools for any company. They contain the company’s operating procedures and policies, ensuring employees’ and employers’ rights are protected. They also disclose legal information, such as workplace harassment policies, as well as expectations for safety in the workplace.

Because your employee handbook outlines your company’s guidelines and policies, it’s important that your employees sign off on having received their handbook. It demonstrates that not only did they receive it, but they are also responsible for knowing its contents.

What happens when one of your employees refuses to sign the handbook though?

First things first, it’s important to talk to them about the reason for not signing the handbook. It’s possible their refusal is based on an easily resolved misunderstanding about what their signature on this document means.

Should this conversation not resolve the problem, and you still want them to work for you, they need to be told that failure to sign the handbook does not mean they are exempt from the policies and procedures within. They still apply to them and they will be held to the same standards as their co-workers, regardless of whether you have their signature on file.

If they persist in their refusal to sign, it’s very important you document their refusal properly. Ask them to write “I refuse to sign” on the acknowledgement form, along with the date. You should write “employee refused to sign” along with your own signature. It’s highly recommended to call in another manager to witness this and sign off on it as well.

Make sure you also document on the acknowledgement form that you told the employee they will still be expected to follow the company’s policies, and will be subject to discipline for failing to do so, just like everyone else.