By Lea Fox  

Human Resources (HR) policies are an essential ingredient of any successful start-up or small business. Good policies will establish a clear understanding for expectations and standards, while also protecting the rights of employers. Unfortunately, while so important in a workplace, they are one of the last things on the mind of a small business owner.

To help you get on the right path to creating business policies, we’ve compiled a list of 12 HR policies all businesses should have:

1. Work Health & Safety Policy

Workplace injuries can affect your business in a number of ways including decreased productivity, sick pay obligations, the cost of finding a replacement and increased premiums. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policies outline safety procedures and the responsibilities of all employees to keep themselves and the workplace safe.

2. Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Did you know an employer can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination, bullying or harassment in their business? In order to minimise this risk, the business must show they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment from occurring. This is almost impossible if you don’t have a comprehensive policy in writing.

Having a policy in place communicates clearly to employees what constitutes bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and any other form of inappropriate behaviour at work. A good policy will also outline procedures for dealing with complaints.

3. Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct is important for setting the standards of behaviour you expect from your employees. Common issues such as dress code, mobile phone use, punctuality and the use of company property will be included in a Code of Conduct.

By outlining unacceptable behaviour and educating employees on business values through a policy, you are in a better position to manage unacceptable conduct in the workplace if and when it arises.

4. Drugs and Alcohol Policy

The use of drugs and alcohol during and outside of work hours can present significant safety risks and costs to your business through injuries, absenteeism and damage to company property. A drugs and alcohol policy will reiterate the business’s zero-tolerance approach while also communicating the potential for employees to be subjected to random testing.

5. Leave Policy

For businesses that experience seasonal busy periods, a leave policy can be extremely valuable. A leave policy can set out what can be expected during busy times, times when the business might be shut down, and what happens if an employee doesn’t have enough leave to cover this time.

6. Grievance Policy

Every business will have to deal with a workplace dispute at some point. Having a grievance policy in place acts as an important tool for employees to understand what steps they should follow when making or handling a complaint.

7. Performance Counselling & Discipline Policy

Performance management is a common practice within any business, but can often be a delicate process. A policy will assist you in remaining compliant with requirements of procedural fairness and provide guidance on how unacceptable conduct will be dealt with.

8. Internet and Email Policy

With the increased use of technology in businesses, it is important to establish what is an appropriate and acceptable use of the internet. An internet and email policy will define what is inappropriate use of company computers and internet resources, as well as the consequences an employee may face for breaching the policy.

9. Social Media Policy

Social media use is rapidly increasing and becoming incorporated into our working lives. A social media policy is essential to protecting your company’s reputation, especially if employees list their place of employment on their profiles. On social media, lines between professional and personal networks can become blurred, so it is a good idea to let employees know that how they behave on social media reflects on the business, and what may be the possible consequence of that behaviour.

10. Privacy Policy

Employers have a responsibility to safeguard the personal information of employees and customers. Therefore, businesses must have a policy in place articulating how their private information is used and managed. A privacy policy makes it clear what information is allowed to be made public and what is required to stay private or within the walls of the company. A privacy policy should include employee health records and personal information such as addresses, phone numbers and emails.

11. Driving & Motor Vehicle Policy

As driving becomes more and more common as a work activity, it is important to tell employees what is expected as they get out onto the roads. Whether they are driving a branded work vehicle or their personal vehicle, while they are driving for work purposes, the vehicle becomes their workplace. This means their behaviour, conduct and standards should be the same as when they are in the office. Safety policies relating to driving and motor vehicles should include a procedure for breakdowns and emergency situations.

12. Working from Home Policy

A good portion of employees are now working at least part hours from home. The need for clear instruction and clarity around expectations has never been so key to managing employees and performance. How an employee works, where an employee works and when an employee works should all be captured in a Working from Home policy. A checklist to confirm specific set-ups and obligations is a handy way to practically implement a Working from Home policy.

HR policies are a simple way to ensure your business is well-equipped to handle a number of common workplace issues. HR Assured’s HR software solution, HRA Cloud, allows you to download all of the above HR policies and more. Better yet, HR Assured’s Workplace Relations Specialists will draft tailored HR Policies to suit your unique business needs.

Contact us today to claim your free HR advice call!

Lea Fox is a Senior Workplace Relations and WHS Consultant at FCB Workplace Law. With over 15 years’ background in the industry, Lea is an experienced Industrial Relations/Employment Relations (ER) specialist and Work Health Safety professional. A diverse working career, in both the public and private sector, paved the way to becoming a proficient consultant, technical advisor and people manager. As a more recent addition to the FCB team, Lea continues to work as a member of the Health and Safety department, in ER advisory through the TAS team, as well as contributing to the ongoing growth of HR Assured.