Agriculture Employee Handbook Template


September 12, 2020 - Communications

This Farm Employee Handbook Template is for Educational Purposes Only. This template handbook has been reviewed by Varnum LLP for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Agricultural employers should seek their own legal counsel if they chose to utilize an employee handbook for their farm operation.
[Insert photo of farm, or short mission statement or both in place of the text below]

Instructions: This Employee Handbook was designed as a sample document to be used by farms at their discretion. Once you as the user, insert your name and make the applicable changes, it becomes your farm document and you are solely responsible for the contents and any legal obligations that you create as a result of adopting this Employee Handbook. You must ensure that your farm is meeting all state and federal employment laws. In Michigan, two documents that can help you understand these laws are MSU Extension Bulletin E-2966 “Labor Laws and Michigan Agriculture”, and the MSU Extension fact sheet “Agricultural Employer Checklist”. These documents represent the agricultural employment laws and requirements at the time of their writing, so you the employer are still required to keep current on these laws.
Employers of migrant or seasonal agricultural workers, have additional duties and responsibilities under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, which requires specific written disclosures of the terms and conditions of employment to migrant workers at the time of recruitment, and to seasonal workers on demand in the workers' language of familiarity. Please see Bulletin E-2966 for more information and for links to Federal and State resources. Employers should carefully draft these disclosures to include the flexibility necessary in an unpredictable seasonal agricultural operation.
The First Step in editing the document is to save a copy under your farm name. Next, open the new document and perform a “Find and Replace” function in Word, finding [Farm Name], and replacing it with your farm name.
The Second Step is to review the contents of the document starting on page 4, with the Welcome. All sections are editable and attempt to cover the most used chapters by farm employers. The list is not exhaustive. The sections were adapted from the “Employee Handbook Development Guide”, May 2011, developed by Chuck Schwartau, Extension Educator for the University of Minnesota Extension.
Italicized sections are notes or examples to you, the farm owner, which may or may not apply to your situation. You can insert you language in these sections (or in place of any other sections) as you desire. Again, it is your responsibility as the farm owner/manager to ensure that the content of your Employee Handbook meets all Federal and State legal requirements. If you will not follow through on an obligation that you make in this employee handbook, you should not put it into the handbook.
Michigan is an "at will" employment state. This means a worker can quit for any reason or the employer can let the worker go for any reason as long as it's not discriminatory. An employee handbook that sets out conditions or promises of employment may affect “at will” employment status. Such a document may be considered a contract, and workers can ask courts to enforce a contract's terms. Therefore, be careful what you place into an employee handbook and what that obligates you to.
The Final Step is to update the Table of Contents. You can do this by clicking the upper left hand corner of the Table of Contents and then selecting “Update Table”. A box will appear. Select “Update Entire Table”, and then “OK”. The table titles and page numbers will be updated to reflect the changes that you made.
For information on how to adapt this to your own farm, please seek legal counsel.
For information on how the template features function and how to access additional Agriculture Human Resource materials, please contact: Stan Moore, Michigan State University Extension:


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at