Creating a new staff handbook for private household staff

During private household recruitment – when hiring for the estate or searching for someone to help with the day-to-day, in addition to having a clear and legally compliant contract of employment, the House Manager should create a staff handbook which will give their private household staff a detailed overview of the rules, policies, guidelines or procedures.

A staff handbook will set the tone for professionalism, define expectations, and promote a good relationship between the employer and other household staff.

It is really important to make your staff handbook non-contractual, allowing it to evolve as you need it to.

Key considerations when developing a staff handbook for private household staff:

Introduction and purpose

Your handbook should welcome your new employees and begin with an introduction to the handbook, outlining its purpose and importance. The handbook needs to include the formalities, but equally needs to be a document that is easy to read and easy to navigate.  There is no value in having a handbook if your staff don’t read it!

Household values and culture

Your handbook should set out the values and culture of the household, giving the employee a brief overview of who they will be working for.

Starting your new job

It’s important to set out key information for new employees, regarding their induction and their probationary period.

Employment basics

This is where you need to capture all the basics of the employment relationship, including:

  • Working hours and flexibility
  • Restbreaks
  • Overtime, or time off in lieu rules
  • Pay and Benefits

Responsibilities at work

There should be a clear code of conduct that outlines expected behaviour from staff members while on duty, and during their personal time, especially when they are representing the household.

You also need to set out all the rules and expectations for your household staff, for example, booking holiday and reporting sickness, so that they have a clear understanding and an easy reference to ensure that they follow the correct processes.

Depending on your household, this may also include standards of dress, timekeeping, lunch breaks, smoking in the workplace, use of private vehicles for business, purchases, drugs and alcohol, changes to personal information and potentially much more, depending on what you need.

Training and development

Incorporate the Principal’s commitment to staff training and professional development. This section can include information on courses or opportunities for career growth within the household. This section can also include information about any household processes for appraisal or performance reviews.

Healthy and safety

A staff handbook must address any health and safety concerns, such as emergency procedures, accident reporting, and resources available to staff members.

Expected communication

Stipulate protocols for effective communication between staff members and the management team / Principal. This can include details on regular staff meetings, designated channels for feedback and guidelines for resolving conflicts.

Specific house rules

It is important to include details on specific rules related to the household, such as guest policies and the use of amenities.


You should always ensure you include information regarding the use of computers, work email addresses, phones and the use of social media.

Legal and ethical considerations

Address any legal matters, such as employment contracts and guidelines on ethical considerations, such as the prohibition of accepting gifts from guests or suppliers.

Leaving their employment

Ensuring your staff understand what is required should they decide to leave is just as important, being clear around notice periods, leavers pay, employment references and returning company property is a must in any handbook.

Acknowledgement and agreement

You must ensure you include a section that requires staff members to acknowledge that they have read and understood the contents of the handbook. By requesting their signature, it confirms their commitment to abide by the guidelines outlined within the staff handbook.

Remember, a staff handbook should be a dynamic document that can be updated as and when required. We would recommend encouraging feedback from staff members to improve the handbook’s relevance and effectiveness in fostering a positive and productive work environment for all.

Our HR Specialist, Lyn, is available to work with you to understand your needs and create a new staff handbook for you.  She can also help update an existing handbook. Please feel free to contact Lyn at if you would like some support on this or any other employment matter.

Creating a new staff handbook for private household staff