Whenever there is an employment issue or dispute, one of the first questions will be ‘what does the policy say’. Your policies and procedures will therefore either support what you are trying to do or restrict you. Written procedures also make it easier to manage any situation as you can follow the procedure.
It is recommended that your policies and procedures are 'non-contractual'. This means that they can be changed and amended by the Company should the need arise, without having to consult with employees (unlike the contract of employment). However, it is still essential to communicate any changes.
Policies and procedures should be appropriate for the organisation. They should NOT be overly bureaucratic or lengthy or so rigid as to be inflexible, they should be written so that everyone in the organisation can understand them and support the culture appropriately. There are legal requirements to have certain written policies in place. Other policies will provide the organisation with further protection and flexibility.
Having clear policies (including rules and standards and codes of conduct) will help communicate to employees what is expected and therefore, provided they are well communicated, you are more likely to get the standards of conduct and performance you want for your organisation!
Your policies can be communicated to employee’s in the format of an employee handbook, or you can provide access to documents on-line. One of the most effective solutions is YourHR.space (where content is then managed and updated for you).
Frequently asked questions
You do need to communicate policies and procedures to your employees. If you do not, then you will NOT be able to rely on them and you cannot expect employees to follow and abide by your procedures if they are not clearly communicated. Employment tribunal cases have been lost because the employer could not demonstrate that they had clearly communicated policies.
An employee handbook is a good vehicle to communicate policies and procedures. They can also be made available on a shared drive (as long as everyone has access), or you can use an online system like YourHR.space.
There is a legal requirement to have a written disciplinary and grievance procedure, a GDPR policy and an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy. It is also strongly recommended (although this is not strictly a legal requirement) that you have policies on Equal Opportunities. These would be the absolute minimum. Please see our templates for sample policies.
There are some legal requirements to have certain written policies in place (see FAQ's). In addition having clear policies and procedures will provide the business with greater protection and flexibility when it comes to managing staff and dealing with issues. They will also provide employees with clear standards and rules so that they know what is expected of them. This will result in fewer issues for the business to have to manage! Following procedures will mean that employment matters are handled fairly and consistently, therefore reducing the risk of disputes and claims. If you do end up with an employment tribunal claim, being able to demonstrate that you have communicated clear policies and procedures and followed these will put you in a stronger position. See Introduction to Policies for further details.