Workplace policies help you explain to your employees what you expect of them and can also state legislative requirements.

Even employees that are doing the right thing need to know what you expect of them, whether it is how to apply for leave or what they can and can’t wear to work.

Policies need to be reasonable. You need to ensure that employees are aware of what the policy means to them, their workmates and the business.  Consider conducting regular information sessions about your policies.

What policies should I have in my workplace?

This depends on the size of the business and the type of work.

Here are some policies that I think all businesses should have:

  • Code of conduct
  • Leave
  • Harassment & Bullying
  • Attendance and Absenteeism
  • Anti Discrimination & EEO
  • Performance & Misconduct
  • Grievance
  • Social Media
  • WHS
  • Workplace Bullying
  • Drug & Alcohol

Why do I need Workplace Policies?

Having workplace policies will give employees a clear indication of what is expected of them and what they can expect from you as their employer.

Workplace policies are useful when a legal dispute arises between an employer and an employee. Where the employer can refer to a policy to show that the employee should know what his or her responsibilities are, the employer is likely to be in a much stronger position before a court or tribunal.

There are some employment related policies that are needed to make sure you comply with legislation. For example: WHS, EEO, Harassment & Bullying.

Many workplace policies are not regulated by law, but are based on standards set by the employer in relation to expectations in relation to behaviour in the workplace.

For example, a Code of Conduct deals with employees’ behaviour at work, dress standards, punctuality, alcohol, drugs, smoking, confidentiality, other employment, swearing in the workplace and statements to media.

Social media use is another emerging issue in the workplace and your employees need to be clear about what they can and can’t post on social media, including what they say on their own personal social media profiles.

Case study:

A salesman hadn’t been correctly paid his commissions for a month.

He posted some threatening remarks on his Facebook status, which included a number of swear words. He didn’t mention the employer by name but he did have a number of co-workers in his group of Facebook friends.

The Fair Work Commission determined that “The fact that the comments were made on the applicant’s home computer, out of work hours, does not make any difference.” The comments were read by work colleagues and passed on to his supervisor and it was clear that he was making reference to his employer.

The employee was terminated and his appeal to the Fair Work Commission was dismissed. This case demonstrates the need to have a clear Social Media policy to give employees guidance on the use of Social Media both at work and outside of work.

Workplace policies also advise employees in relation to their entitlements such as leave, attendance, overtime, use of company vehicles & mobile phones.

Well-developed workplace policies & procedures can give many benefits to the workplace. But, remember that they must be properly implemented. If your employees don’t know about the policies, they can’t be effective. Also, as an employer, you need to make sure that you are following your own processes and policies.  Regular training should be given to ensure that your employees understand the policies.

Workplace policies enable you to treat your employees fairly and help protect your business from unfair dismissal or bullying claims lodged to the Fair Work Commission.