Workplace policies are not reserved for big corporations; small businesses are increasingly subject to unfair dismissal and adverse action claims that could be minimised by implementing workplace policies.
Now is an excellent time for employers to set or review workplace policies. Workplace policies set the framework for expected employee behaviour and performance; and the consequences of not complying with their responsibilities.
Well-enforced policies can provide employers with a basis for defending potential liabilities if a legal dispute arises between an employee and employer. A workplace policy clarifies functions and employee responsibilities and ensures uniformity and consistency across all operational procedures.
Although not all workplace issues require a policy, employers should have policies for fundamental problems, such as antidiscrimination and equal opportunity, code of conduct, anti-bullying, sexual harassment, privacy, drug and alcohol use, and workplace health and safety.
For a workplace policy to be effective, it must be publicised and provided to both new and existing staff members. A policy should set out the aim of the policy, why it was developed and who it applies to.
It should clearly outline acceptable and prohibited behaviour and disciplinary action for breaching the policy. Employers must include a date for when the policy was developed and be sure to regularly review and update policies where necessary.
Any changes to employment law and/or your industry’s award or agreement may require a review of your policies and procedures.
Policies must be explained in full and employees should sign off on documents to acknowledge their awareness and understanding of policies. For policies to work effectively, a breach of policy should be implemented and objectively followed by all levels of management, according to the procedures set out in the policy.