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HR Policies are they important and does my business need them?

A question we commonly get asked as HR practitioners is; “Does my business need Human Resource Policies and which ones are most important?”

Most Australian employers have well established workplace policies and procedures in place for all their employees, these policies are normally used in conjunction with a Contract of employment.  These policies can cover off a range of topics such as Leave, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Bullying & Harassment, Travel & Expenses, OH&S and many more.  Many employers ask why do I need policies if I have a contract. The answer is that the contract of employment states the employee’s terms and conditions of employment and contains clauses that do not change. Policies compliment the contracts of employment and may change as the business evolves and expands.

Basically, policies are the employer’s expectations of the employee’s actions and behavior while in the workplace where as procedures are more detailed and outline the steps taken as part of a process in a policy.  For example, a policy may state that full time employees are entitled to take 4 weeks annual leave per year.  Whereas the procedure will state the steps to do so such as fill out a leave form and submit to your manager at least 3 weeks prior to wanting to take leave.

Employee handbooks or policy manuals not only assist with communicating your standards of actions and behaviours to employees but it also protects your company from possible legal action or employees taking the p&%S! For example if you terminate an employee for inappropriate behaviour and conduct the first thing that a Commissioner will ask is what did your Policy say and was the employee aware of it? So obviously there is no point having policies if you don’t implement them and get them signed off with your employees.

Policies should provide all the information that new (and some established) employees need to know.  They are a great tool in the induction process to ensure new starters are on the same page as you from day one.

As mentioned earlier there are many different types of policies.  These range from very simple Dress Code policies that outline specific attire that is or is not acceptable in your workplace.  For example if working in hospitality you may require all staff to wear clean pressed black trousers, clean pressed white polo shirt and a clean pressed and stain free apron.  Some industries will have very specific requirements based on OH&S laws such as steel capped boots or hi-vis clothing in factory loading bays.

Some policies are required by law such Equal Employment Opportunity, Bullying & Harassment or Occupational Health and Safety.  Based on these requirements, some business’ have a zero tolerance approach that can lead to immediate termination of employment for serious breaches.

Our top 10 picks that every business should have as a minimum are:

  1. Code of conduct
  2. Diversity Policy – Bullying & Harassment
  3. Grievance Policy
  4. Occupational Health and Safety Policy
  5. Alcohol, drugs and smoking Policy
  6. Email, internet and social media Policy
  7. Recruitment and Selection Policy
  8. Leave Policy
  9. Privacy Policy
  10. Company Vehicle and Tools of Trade Policy

Here at HR Gurus we strongly advise that all business’ no matter their size to implement a comprehensive Employee Handbook or Manual that clearly outlines your business’ rules, regulations and processes.  If you need help creating your workplace polices give us a call on 1300 959 560 and one of our experienced staff can help you.

If you would like to purchase our online HR templates product click here => http://hrgurus.com.au/templates

Written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol

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