A workplace policy can form the backbone of a company, outlining standards for appropriate behaviour. Every business, big or small, needs them. But knowing how to put a workplace policy together, and what to include, can be difficult if you’ve never created one previously. It’s important to get it right, not least collectively policies can help your business comply with relevant laws and regulations.

This article discusses why workplace policies are important and what they should comprise.


Why do workplaces need policies?

While there are only a handful of policies that workplaces must have by law, many other rules and regulations that govern workplace behaviour are legally enforceable. Often, organisations find that implementing workplace policies is the most effective way to ensure compliance with these rules.

Workplace policies are useful for more than just fulfilling legal obligations, though. They outline what is expected of employees, clarifying issues ranging from dress code and punctuality to ethics and privacy. Clear, well-communicated policies can lead to consistent implementation of workplace procedures and best practices, resulting in a happier, more productive workforce.


Why are policies so important in the workplace?

Workplace policies serve as the foundation for a productive and legally compliant workforce. The benefits of creating and communicating clear and concise workplace policies are far-reaching, regardless of the business’s size or industry. These benefits include:

• Setting expectations – Workplace policies lay the groundwork for employee expectations. This is particularly important when training new employees. Workplace policies help employees to understand the rules, expectations, and responsibilities from day one, paving the way for successful integration into the workplace culture.
• Compliance with laws – Policies provide a framework to ensure adherence to legal requirements and industry standards. They guide actions in areas like health and safety, anti-discrimination, and data protection, helping to prevent legal disputes.
• Boosting productivity – Clear policies help create an organised and predictable environment, enhancing employee productivity.
• Encouraging accountability – Policies provide employees with a reference point for performance and behaviour. Establishing standards holds employees accountable for their actions, encouraging a culture of responsibility and respect.
• Ensuring consistency – By clearly outlining procedures and rules, policies ensure consistency in how situations are handled across the organisation, helping to ensure that employees are treated fairly.
• Providing legal defence – Should a business face a legal dispute, well-documented policies can be crucial to its defence, demonstrating the company’s commitment to a fair and regulated work environment.
• Reducing risk – Policies help to identify and manage risk in the workplace, from data security to workplace safety.


Why are common workplace policies?

Workplace policies vary from one organisation to the next, but there are a few critical ones that every business, regardless of size or sector, should have in place:
• Health and safety policy – Outlines the procedures for maintaining a safe working environment, reporting accidents and hazards, and complying with relevant health and safety laws.
• Disciplinary and dismissal policy – Outlines the steps an employer will take in the event of employee misconduct.
• Grievance policy – Provides employees with guidance on how to raise concerns or complaints about their work, working conditions, or colleagues.

Beyond these essential policies, there are many more common policies, including:

• Equal opportunities policy
• Data protection policy
• Flexible working policy
• Absence and sick leave policy
Social Media and IT usage policy
• Substance abuse policy

The policies suitable for each organisation depend on its industry, location, size, and culture.


What should be included in a workplace policy?

Ready to create your workplace policies? To be effective, workplace policies should be written in clear and simple language and be easily accessible every employee.

Your company’s workplace policies should be written in a standardised style to maintain consistency. While the content of each policy will vary, using a standardised format helps to ensure that every one is organised and coherent. Key elements to incorporate into your company policy include:

• Header – This should state the policy title, the department it applies to, and the date that the policy was developed or last updated
• Introduction – The introduction should provide details about the policy’s purpose, explaining why it is necessary and how it will benefit the organisation and its employees
• Definitions – To ensure clarity, define any key terms or concepts used within the policy. This ensures that everyone has a common understanding of the terms used and their implications
• Procedures – If any procedures are mentioned, provide clear, step-by-step instructions
• Expectations – Provides clear guidelines about how employees are expected to behave
• Consequences – Clearly outlines the potential consequences of violating the policy


Are workplace policies legally binding?

While important, workplace policies are not legally binding. However, disregarding or breaching company policies could result in non-compliance with important laws and regulations. For example, if a company designs a health and safety policy to ensure compliance with important health and safety regulations, breaching the policy could result in breaching the law.

Also, if any of the terms contained within a workplace policy also appear in an employee’s employment contract, these terms become legally binding, and breaches could have serious legal implications. Our HR professionals at People Based Solutions offer various outsourced HR services for small businesses, including creating employment policies and company policies.

To find out more about our services, give us a call on 01925 202 217 or email enquiries@peoplebasedsolutions.co.uk

People Based HR