Employment Hero

What is a workplace policy and how do I write one?

Workplace policies shouldn’t be arcane documents that languish on dusty shelves – instead, they’re dynamic tools that articulate your organisation’s values, culture, systems and processes, and expectations around employee behaviour.

If you’re wondering exactly what a workplace policy is and whether you need one in your business, the answer is a definite ‘yes’.

A workplace policy is a statement which outlines an organisation’s practices and procedures concerning part of its business, which can cover everything from day-to-day operational matters to compliance with employment legislation.

Workplace policies play an important role in expressing an organisation’s values and establishing a positive and productive organisational culture. A well-written and clearly communicated policy helps sets clear expectations around employee behaviour and performance, which means everyone can get on with business.

Workplace policies also safeguard an organisation from risk. According to Employment Hero’s HR Compliance white paper, a well-written policy will “protect your business from a range of situations, whether it’s social media, inappropriate computer use, discrimination or harassment.”

“If you don’t have a policy, then it’s very difficult to defend certain claims that might be brought by an employee,” says Simon Obee, Head of Legal and Professional Services at Employment Hero.

The types of workplace policies that a business requires varies between industries, but some common policies include:

  • code of conduct
  • recruitment policy
  • internet and email policy
  • mobile phone policy
  • non-smoking policy
  • drug and alcohol policy
  • health and safety policy
  • anti-discrimination and harassment policy
  • grievance handling policy
  • discipline and termination policy
  • using social media

Tips for writing policies

The NSW Government Industrial Relations website provides some useful tips for developing workplace policies. It advises ensuring that a policy has the support of management and, where appropriate, consulting with staff in its development and implementation to help encourage buy-in and compliance.

A workplace policy should state its purpose and define key terms to avoid any ambiguity if a breach is made. It should use clear, easy-to-understand language that is free from jargon.

It should make clear who the policy applies to, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable under the policy and the consequences of non-compliance. It should also include a mechanism for reporting issues, and it must also comply with the National Employment Standards and other relevant employment legislation.

It’s not enough to write a workplace policy and file it under ‘done’. A workplace policy requires proper implementation to be effective, which means making sure staff are aware of the policy and its implications. Training in workplace policies should be a mandatory part of the on-boarding process, and copies of the policies should be stored in easy-to-find locations.

Employment Hero’s HR Compliance white paper sets out a simple five-step policy checklist for employers:

  1. Clearly explain the conduct expected of employees, and the consequences of breaching policies.
  2. Ensure all employees have easy access to your workplace policies.
  3. Regularly audit workplace policies to keep them up to date with relevant laws and other policies and procedures in your company.
  4. As part of your onboarding program, ensure all new hires review and acknowledge their awareness and understanding of your workplace policies.
  5. Where appropriate, conduct regular training on appropriate workplace behaviour.

Employment Hero offers a range of workplace policy resources including contracts and templates. Click here to request a demo today to learn more.

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