Along with employment contracts, policies form the legal cornerstone of the employment relationship. While contracts are typically used to establish terms specific to the individual employee, such as duties and compensation, policies are designed to cover either entire groups or the organization as a whole.
Some policies range are legislatively-required; if you do not have them, you are in breach of your legal obligations. That is true even if you only have one employee.
Being legally compliant is just the starting point. You should use policies and procedures strategically in order to establish the rules of the workplace and be able to enforce them. They can also help to ensure that work is carried out efficiently, to ensure that employees are treated fairly, and to make employees aware of what to do if they have concerns.
Having a policy also makes it easier to impose discipline, including dismissal, where employees are not behaving or performing as they should. Drafting a policy is just the first step however; it will be ineffective unless employees are made aware of it.
In order to ensure that they can rely upon policies, organizations should:
- Have policies that deal with any areas of concern;
- Use clear and unambiguous language;
- Ensure that the policy complies with the applicable legislation in each jurisdiction where there are employees (one size does not necessarily fit all);
- Communicate the policy regularly
- Make sure all employees and managers are aware of the policy and any changes;
- Keep it somewhere accessible;
- Be able to show that employees were provided with a meaningful opportunity to review the policy on a regular basis; and
- Have regular reminders (information sessions, distributions and redistributions).
- Provide training where appropriate to staff and managers;
- Be clear about the consequences of breaching the policy,
- Warn employees that they may be disciplined up to and including termination;
- Monitor behaviour as appropriate to ensure compliance;
- Discipline offenders to avoid being seen as condoning breaches; and
- Review and update the policies regularly.
Too many organizations think of policies as something that they have to do in order to be compliant, rather than something they should do in order to be strategic. As a result, they miss an opportunity to strengthen their legal position.
How we can help
We will work with you in order to develop customized policies and procedures that address the specific needs of your organization, and then provide the training and support that you need in order to implement and enforce them.
We want to be your Trusted Advisor, your Chief HR Law Officer, your business partner. Let us be part of your team, so that we can look after your employment law issues, and you can focus on your business.