Policies & procedures- why we need them
Most of us don’t think about policies and procedures at work – until we need them. However, if they aren’t already in place and an incident arises, it can cause problems for both staff and employers, and even lead to prosecution.
Setting out policies and procedures, whether in a handbook, manual or online portal, is important for every company, even if it only employs a few staff. Employees should make sure they are aware of company policies too – as they can affect everything from their annual leave to their pay and pension.
What sort of policies and procedures should a company have in place?
There are some essential policies that companies should have, in particular those that relate to legal requirements, such as health & safety, data protection, absence for sickness and equal opportunities.
Other types of policies may be advisable, such as those on claiming expenses, flexible working, volunteering or compassionate leave.
In recent years, the importance of digital policies has come to the fore – for example, social media use and whether personal use of company equipment is allowed. In addition, policies should be kept up to date with new legilsation, for example all business should now acknowledge the Prevent Duty within their policies which is part of the Counter Terrorism Act 2015.
Why do employers need them?
A few examples of when it’s useful to have policies and procedures in place:
- An employee wants time off to care for a sick relative
- A member of staff wants to go part time
- A company needs to make redundancies
- An organisation regularly works with children or vulnerable adults
- A manufacturing plant requires its employees to use potentially dangerous machinery
Having the right policies and procedures in place isn’t only about legal obligations and safety, it can also enhance the employer’s relationship with its employees and improve staff recruitment and retention. For example, policies on staff performance and training, diversity and compassionate leave can all make a workplace more attractive to staff.
How do you put policies and procedures in place?
First the company will need to establish who is responsible for setting up the policy or procedure. This might be at director level or, in the case of a working procedure, it may be the manager responsible for this level of the business.
Second, policies and procedures should be suitable for the business in question, written in jargon-free English and readily available for staff to consult.
Third, there’s no point in having policies and procedures unless you implement them. This means that all employees and temporary staff should understand what is required of them and how to carry out the policy or procedure. Training of staff and managers is therefore key.
Finally, if any policies or procedures are found not to be working well for any reason, there should be options for revising them to make them fit for purpose.