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. Types of policies range from legislatively-required policies such as health and safety to organization-specific issues such as dress code and where meals are to be eaten. They should also address attendance requirements, leaves of absence, code of conduct, discipline, and anything that is of concern to the employer.
Having a policy also makes it easier to impose discipline, including dismissal, where employees are not behaving or performing as they should. In order to ensure that they can rely upon policies, organizations should:
- Have a policy to deal with any issue 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;
- Append it to the employee training manual or to employment agreements;
- Have employees confirm that they have reviewed the policy on a regular basis;
- Have regular reminders (information sessions, distributions and redistributions); and
- Ensure that employees understand the concerns and reasons for the policies.
- 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.
Particularly with respect to the use of technology, it is critical to update policies regularly and monitor usage. Technology is constantly changing, and policies must be considered and adopted to address the risks and concerns that evolve.
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.
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.