Business owners and entrepreneurs are too busy and forward thinking to be troubled with company policies and the implementation of procedures. Developing policies in your business is not only difficult but can be considerably annoying. 

The reality is, your business needs effective and updated policies and procedures now more than ever. Insufficient or non-existent policies represent a legal threat to your businesses regardless of size.

Inexistent or outdated policies create the ideal scenario for liability.

Companies are heavily audited upon whether they have policies and procedures in place. Without standards there is nothing to measure against. So when FairWork makes an audit they are really looking to that and the consistent application of those policies and procedures. 

In Australia, one of the things the FairWork always looks at is procedural fairness. So having the right policies and procedures in place is key when defending an unfair dismissal claim. As a business owner you will have to prove in court that you have taken all reasonable steps. 

Policies and procedures can help you prove defense against a claim. For example, if you want to terminate an employee because they breach a certain policy, if they have done training and signed a policy where it states they understand they will be bound by that policy and understand what it means, then you will be in a better position to rely on that policy.

If you don’t have policies and procedures then you are far more likely to fail in relation to claims for a variety of reasons.

Policies and procedures are guidelines and principles that are formulated and adopted by an organisation. They are designed to influence all decisions and actions or activities conducted in the business within the boundaries set by these policies and procedures. 

They exist in an attempt to help your business to reach its long term goals, and can cover everything from day-to-day operational matters to compliance with employment legislation. 

It is important to clarify that Policies and Procedures are not the same things. Policies are generally overall overarching rules applying to everyone in the company. A procedure applies to your physical job, the work you are doing, and how the company has determined it should be done. 

Policies cover things like the law while procedures cover more the internal document of how you do business. They govern the compliance of your business, what you have to have in place to be a compliant employer. Policies are HR and procedures are department driven. Policies go in your handbook however not procedures. 

Here are some examples of the most common workplace policies that could assist your business:

  • code of conduct
  • recruitment policy
  • internet and email policy
  • mobile phone policy
  • non-smoking policy
  • drug and alcohol policy
  • health and safety policy
  • anti-discrimination and harassment policy
  • grievance handling policy
  • discipline and termination policy
  • using social media

Procedures should be designed and written by each Manager or responsible of each unit department. This way, it will serve as a training tool for the staff since they will learn how to do the job right and will save time and confusion. 

One of the big problems I’ve seen in several businesses across different industries is that a lot of times the policies and procedures are really vague, positions have changed, the employees are not using those systems anymore, or they haven’t been updated over the course of organizational changes. 

It is best practice and a priority to do regular assessments on your company policies and procedures, to ensure they are still relevant and compliant, and reflecting your current business practices and any legal updates.

It is also important that the policies are distributed and communicated to everyone in the business and that they are of easy access to all. There is no point in having policies but no one is aware of them.  We all need frameworks to know and understand what is expected from us to do it in an effective manner.

Any business should have policies and procedures in place, it is not only best practice but is also a great risk management tool. They must be up to date with recent case law and legislative changes; and all staff should know what they are, where to find them, and their obligations under those policies.

Policies and procedures are not just about limiting your legal liability, although that will happen, but also about an idea of what kind of workplace you want to create. I have implemented many policies and procedures, in several companies across different industries and geographic regions, that have enabled successful cultural change. 

Sometimes business owners realize they have the need to document the policies and procedures, however lack the resources and the internal expertise to do so. You may have policies that need to be reviewed and updated to reflect the current practices, or you may need a totally new policy from scratch, you can get in touch with us so we can assist you with any of this. 

We are here to make your life a lot easier and ensure you are not stressing out about it. Along with it, we also like to provide ideas and make recommendations to improve your internal procedures to make them more efficient for your business. Get in touch today to have a conversation about your policies.

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Sep 14, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations: workplace rights and obligations

With Australia’s vaccine rollout continuing and the increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, employers and employees are encouraged to work together to find solutions that suit their individual needs and workplaces. A collaborative approach in the workplace that includes discussing, planning and facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations is an important part of Australia’s vaccine rollout, because having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19.