Workplace Policies

Workplace Policies

The rising importance of Workplace Policies

Gone are the days where you can turn a blind eye to your obligations as an employer in relation to workplace policies. Governing bodies know how long these have been around, at least since the Fair Work Act (2009) was implemented, so it’s not going to be a valid excuse anymore.

What are workplace policies?

Workplace policies can provide employees with the necessary boundaries/benchmarks to feel confident in their work and conduct. They can also assist in creating consistency in the way situations are dealt with by supervisors/managers across the business and at varying levels. Workplace policies generally fall into three broad categories:

  • Expected standards of behaviour of employees (e.g. code of conduct, social media use, bullying and harassment)
  • Established processes (e.g. conflict and grievance resolution, discipline and performance management)
  • The provision of employee benefits (e.g. redundancy, recruitment, annual leave)

Not only do workplace policies outline business processes, they can protect businesses from legal liability. If an investigation was ever made into a business, employers can show these policies to demonstrate that the employee understood and was aware of the processes/conduct that was expected.

What is the legal status of Workplace Policies?

While workplace policies are generally not enforceable contractual documents, they are still valuable at law. Where an employee makes a claim against an employer in court or the Fair Work Commission, an employer may be able to refer to a workplace policy as evidence in the matter.  It can also show that, as an employer, you ar trying to set standards and strive for continual improvement. 

Employee contracts should state the workplace policies do not form part of the contract but run parallel to it. This will alleviate any doubt about the legal status of workplace policies as they can also be used against the employer if the employer is not following, or is allowing conduct that has been detailed in those policies.

What Workpolicies should be a staple in any business?

The following is a few of the top policies that should be in a HR manual or system for employees:

Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) Policy 

– Work from Home Policy & Checklist

– Overtime Policy

– Anti-Discrimination & Equal Opportunity Policy

– Bullying & Harassment Policy

– Domestic Violence Policy

– Internet, Email & Social Media Policy

– Fit for Work Policy

– Drug & Alcohol Policy

– Dispute & Grievance Policy

– Performance Management Policy

Depending on your industry will dictate what other policies you may require, and this list is just an example of what a business should have as a minimum. Well written policies are easy to read and should be written in plain English. Headings and sub-headings should be used to break up sections of the policy and definitions of key words (industry related) should be detailed in it as well. And remember, not all policies are a ‘one-size fits all’, sometimes you need to have them tailored to your business.

If you would like to chat about Workplace Policies or book ICS in to do a review of your current policies, contact us now! Let’s reassure you that you are doing the best you can and have realistic policies and processes for your business!¬†

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