Does anyone other than HR know about your workplace policies?
By Bianca Mazzarella
20 April 2021
Often there is no ‘middle ground’ and workplaces either won’t have workplace policies at all or have such detailed policies that no one really knows (or cares) about them other than the HR department.
Make sure your business isn’t ‘caught out’ if you fit into either of these camps!
What are policies and why does my business need them?
A workplace policy outlines a company or organisation’s practices and procedures relating to their business. As an employer, business owner or director, it is important to be aware of the policies needed for your business.
Policies can be used as a tool to protect an organisation from risk and to comply with relevant legislative requirements. Types of policies may include:
- Sexual harassment;
- Occupational health and safety;
- COVID-19 compliance;
- Email, internet and social media;
- Mobile phone;
- Drug, alcohol and non-smoking;
- Grievance handling; and
- Discipline and termination.
In circumstances where an organisation does not have policies in place, it will be difficult to defend certain claims that may be brought by an employee and puts the employer on the ‘back foot’.
When do I distribute policies to my employees?
Policies should be provided to employees at the beginning of employment and included as part of their employment agreement. Policies should be reviewed annually to ensure they are updated in accordance with legislative changes.
If you have not provided your employees with policies from the beginning of their employment, don’t worry it’s not too late and can be done after commencement of employment.
Factors to consider when reviewing and updating existing policies
- Is the policy compliant with recent legislation?
- Is there an award and if so, are there any changes to the most recent award which are relevant to the policy?
- Are all employees covered by the same award?
- Do policies refer to safety and how to navigate this in the workplace, particularly in relation to hygiene practices, sexual harassment and discrimination and occupational health and safety requirements.
- How will policies be disseminated to employees?
- Have employees executed a declaration confirming agreement to policies?
These are just some of the many factors an employer, director or business owner should consider when running a workplace to ensure policies protect the organisation.
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