Employment policies and procedures

Many employers opt to put in place a variety of employment policies and procedures. These can benefit your business in many ways. They provide:

  • Information about how your business deals with human resources (HR) matters. They provide a single point of reference about the culture of the organisation, basic information and processes
  • A guide for managers to help them deal with particular matters (for example, a guide to how to conduct a grievance or disciplinary procedure)
  • A way of managing employees’ expectations (for example, to set out how employees can expect certain matters to be dealt with, such as grievances and disciplinary procedures or to provide a collection of rules on how employees are expected to behave (for example, workplace attire) and what type of conduct will not be acceptable, including what sanctions employees can expect if they break the rules
  • Consistency in the way employees are treated and the processes followed
  • A way of protecting your interests, such as providing for confidentiality, requiring disclosure of conflicts of interest and minimising liability (for example, health and safety)

There is a difference between a policy and a procedure. In particular:

  • A policy is a statement of how you approach a particular HR-related matter. Employment policies usually go into more detail about issues that are already set out in the employment contract; for example, holidays or sickness absence
  • A procedure, which often forms part of the policy itself, is a description of the process used to deal with a particular matter or issue

For example, a disciplinary policy will set out standards of behaviour expected of employees and the consequences that will follow if these standards are not met. However, it is the disciplinary procedure that sets out how disciplinary issues will be dealt with: warnings, investigations, appeals and so on.

Most employers choose to group together their policies and procedures in a single place. Perhaps in a staff handbook or on the company intranet.

The type of policies and procedures that employers chose to put in place is almost endless. Examples include policies and procedures relating to:

  • Remuneration
  • Sick pay and sickness absence procedures
  • Holiday entitlement and procedures for booking it
  • Disciplinary rules
  • Workplace and job content flexibility
  • Hours of work and flexitime arrangements (if applicable)
  • Expenses
  • Company car
  • Outside interests
  • Ethical/good business conduct
  • Confidentiality
  • Maternity/adoption leave and pay
  • Paternity leave and pay
  • Data protection
  • Inventions
  • Post-employment restraints
  • E-mail, telephone and internet policy, including monitoring of employee use
  • Off-duty conduct
  • Termination of employment procedures
  • Whistleblowing
  • Alcohol and drugs (including random testing, if appropriate)
  • Share dealing
  • Equal opportunity
  • Dignity at work including anti-bullying/harassment policy and complaint procedures
  • Training
  • Relocation expenses reimbursement
  • Health and safety: overall policy plus various reporting requirements
  • Time off for dependant emergencies
  • Time off for parental leave
  • Other types of leave of absence; for example, training, territorial army and public duties (such as jury service)
  • Unpaid time off
  • Flexible working
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • Appraisals
  • Redundancy
  • Recruitment
  • Religious holidays
  • Poor performance management
  • Retirement
  • "Non-business" relationships at work
  • Working attire and appearance
  • Routine administrative procedures
  • Use of company equipment and assets
  • Security
  • Employer-specific benefits and facilities

We would expect only the largest of businesses to have all of the above. Most employers prefer to start with a handful of the policies and procedures that are most important to their business and to expand from there. We recommend starting with a disciplinary and grievance policy and procedure and working from there to add further policies and procedures that are the most important to your business.

There are some pitfalls to avoid. In particular:

  • It is best for your policies and procedures not to form a part of each employee’s contract of employment (even though they might be referred to in the contract). If a policy or procedure has contractual status, you cannot change it without renegotiating the terms of the contract with every employee. Keeping the policies and procedures outside the contract gives you the freedom to update or change them when necessary
  • If you introduce a policy or procedure, make sure you follow it. A failure to follow your own procedure becomes ‘a stick to beat you with’ if there is every an employment dispute. For this reason it is wise not to simply introduce a whole host of ‘off the shelf’ policies or procedures. You need to make sure the polices and procedures suit your business and that you follow them when the need arises
  • Make sure the policies and procedures are publicised within the business and are accessible. There is no point spending time creating a comprehensive set of policies and procedures only to file them away on a dusty shelf where no one knows about them.

At Cozens-Hardy we can provide you with a whole range of policies and procedures. We can provide a suggested template policy or procedure and work with you to adapt it to meet the needs of your business.

To discuss your business requirements, Andrew Spencer can be contacted by phone on: 01603 724671 or by email at: ajspencer@cozens-hardy.com.

To find out more, call us on: 01603 625231