Employment Hero

10 Essential Workplace Policies All Small (Australian) Businesses Should Use

Workplace policies and procedures articulate a business’s values and set clear expectations around employee behaviour and performance. They make sure everyone is on the same page, knows what is expected of them and can get on with the job.

Comprehensive workplace policies safeguard a business against risk. This helps ensure compliance with employment legislation and acting as the first line of defence if an employee brings a claim against the company. They also help create a safe workplace, providing employees with options for reporting any issues that arise. It’s not enough to have a policy – employees must be aware of policies and their substance. So what are these 10 policies, and why do they matter? Keep reading to find out.

1. Code of Conduct

A code of conduct sets the standards of behaviour expected from employees. It may outline standards of conduct between staff, clients and customers. It also specifies requirements for dress, grooming and appearance and the use of an organisation’s facilities and resources. This policy should also state the consequences of breaches, which may also be covered in the discipline and termination policy (see below).

2. Health and Safety Policy

In Australia, employers are legally required to protect their employees’ health and safety at work. A health and safety policy should state the organisation’s commitment to maintaining a workplace that is safe for workers and visitors and outline the responsibilities of both the employer and employees in eliminating hazards.

3. Recruitment Policy

A recruitment policy expresses an organisation’s commitment to attracting the best candidates while adhering to a fair and equitable hiring process.

4. Digital Policy

Policies covering IT, internet, email, social media and mobile phone use state how employees should conduct themselves in the digital sphere. These policies help protect an organisation’s security and reputation and are a vital component of dealing with issues like harassment and bullying.


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5. Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs – including prescribed medications – can impact a person’s performance at work. As Safe Work Australia makes clear, an alcohol and drug policy is particularly important in industries where a worker could kill or seriously injure themselves, another worker or a member of the public.

6. Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy

A discrimination, bullying and harassment policy underpins any safe and healthy workplace. It should clearly define what constitutes discrimination, bullying and harassment. As well as outline expectations of behaviour, and provide impartial reporting mechanisms for staff. More information about workplace bullying and harassment is available at Safe Work Australia.

7. A Grievance Handling Policy

A grievance handling policy should state the employer’s commitment to investigate complaints with impartiality and explain options for resolving issues between employees and/or managers.

8. Leave Policy

A leave policy will clearly outline types of leave available under the Fair Work Act and the organisation’s own rules. It should also summarise the process that should be followed to access leave, including any documentation required such as a medical certificate.

9. Performance Management Policy

Performance management policies outlines how underperformance will be managed and the possible consequences of underperformance. “Being clear about what could happen can make it clear what the employee responsibilities are. It can also help prevent employees from feeling victimised if an issue does come up,” states the Fair Work Ombudsman’s webpage concerning managing performance and warnings.

10. Discipline and Termination Policy

Finally, a discipline and termination policy will help employers navigate complex issues around under-performance and misconduct and their consequences. So, this workplace policy should adhere to relevant legislation governing dismissal. As well as identifying what behaviours could lead to dismissal without warning, and detail procedures for disciplinary measures (including warnings), termination, redundancy, and any avenues for recourse. An employer should always seek legal advice before dismissing an employee for misconduct in the workplace.

Other topics typically covered by workplace policies include flexible work, staff social functions and working from home.


Employment Hero offers a range of workplace policy resources including templates. Request a demo today to learn more.

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