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A Quick Guide for Employment Policies

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This article hass ben submitted by Greenaway Scott

Policies and procedures set out the standards expected of employees and assist with the day-to-day running of the business.

Policies can be stand-alone or form part of a staff handbook. It is advisable for any policies and, or staff handbook to be non-contractual so that employers have the flexibility to make changes and update them as required.

When dealing with employee issues, it is important that employers act consistently in their treatment of employees and policies help to ensure this consistency of treatment.

Required by law

Disciplinary procedures and rules: the procedures for taking disciplinary action or dismissals, including appeals.

Grievance procedures: the steps to be taken on submission of a grievance.

Sickness absence policy: the terms relating to sick leave, sick pay and returning to work.

Health and safety: If an employer employs five or more people, it must have a written health and safety policy. An employer also has a duty to bring the policy to the attention of all employees.

Whistleblowing: there may be specific requirements depending on the type of organisation. Listed companies are required to have written whistleblowing arrangements or explain why they do not. Companies governed by FCA and PRA whistleblowing rules require up-to-date written procedures in place. The Government expects all public bodies to have written whistleblowing policies. In all other cases, the existence of such a policy may offer protection to an employer beyond merely giving guidance to employees on how to raise concerns.

Recommended policies

Some policies are not required by law but would assist to meet other legal obligations or provide a defence to liability where things go wrong.

Anti-Bribery Policy: A company may be guilty of an offence if a person associated with them bribes another person, intending to obtain or retain a business advantage. A company may have a defence if it can show it had an adequate procedure designed to prevent bribery. An anti-bribery policy may assist in preventing bribery as well as meeting the “adequate procedures defence”.

Tax evasion policy: A company commits an offence if it fails to prevent an associated person from facilitating tax evasion. It is a defence to show reasonable “prevention procedures” were in place, or that it was not reasonable to have any procedures in place. Implementation would assist an employer with meeting the statutory defence if a tax evasion facilitation offence is committed by one of its workers.

Equal Opportunities/Equality Policy: An employment tribunal may take into account the existence of such a policy when deciding whether discrimination has taken place. Provided a policy is implemented with proper training and publicity, and appropriate action is taken in the event of breach, a policy can help an employer establish a “reasonable steps” defence even if discrimination has been proven.

Data protection policy: This may help to ensure compliance with legislation. Data must be processed fairly and it is a requirement of fair processing that data subjects are informed of the purposes for which the data is intended to be processed. A data protection policy is one way of complying with this obligation.

Social media policy: this policy is essential due to the growing popularity of social media. This policy sets out the appropriate use of social media by employees.

As a minimum, smaller companies should ensure they have the above policies in place. Larger organisations generally have a much more comprehensive set of policies in place to adhere to best practice.