Clear and effective HR policies are an essential ingredient in any successful start-up or small business. HR Policies set out clear ground rules for employees and protect the rights of employers. Unfortunately, policies and procedures are often the last thing on your mind as a business owner.

So, if you’re unsure where to start, here’s our list of the top 10 ‘must have’ HR policies for small and medium-sized businesses:

Health and Safety at Work Policy

Workplace injuries can affect your business in many ways, including decreased productivity, sick-pay obligations, and the cost of finding a replacement. A solid H&S policy highlights safety procedures and the responsibilities of all employees to keep the workplace safe.

Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Did you know an employer can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination or harassment in their business? To minimise the risk, you need to show you’ve taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment in your workplace. But without a comprehensive policy, this is almost impossible!

Having a policy in place tells employees in no uncertain terms what constitutes bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination and other types of inappropriate behaviour at work. A good Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination policy will also outline procedures for making and dealing with complaints.

Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct is important for setting the standard of behaviour you expect from your employees. Common issues such as dress code, mobile phone use, punctuality and the use of company property will be included in a Code of Conduct.

By outlining unacceptable behaviour and educating employees on business values through a policy, you’re in a better position to manage any unacceptable conduct in the workplace.

Drug and Alcohol Policy

The use of drug and alcohol during, and outside of, work hours can present significant safety risks and costs to your business through injuries, absenteeism and lost productivity. A drug and alcohol policy can promote and maintain a risk-free work environment, while outlining the rights of your business to test employees for drug-use.

Leave Policy

For businesses that experience seasonal busy periods, a leave policy can be invaluable. A leave policy can include ‘blackout’ periods during busy periods, and increased notice periods for employees applying for leave, to ensure you aren’t understaffed. It can also clarify annual shutdown periods, rules around advance/negative leave, and how you handle high leave balances.

Grievance Policy

Most businesses will have to deal with a workplace dispute at some point. A grievance policy is an important tool to help employees understand what steps they should follow when lodging a complaint, and exactly what’ll happen when they do.

Performance Counselling and Discipline Policy

Performance management is a common practice in any business, but can be a delicate process. A policy will assist you in remaining compliant with requirements of procedural fairness, and be a guide to your employees as to how unacceptable conduct will be dealt with.

Internet and Email Policy

With the increased use of technology in businesses, it’s important to manage inappropriate internet usage. An internet and email policy will define what is inappropriate use of company computers and internet resources, as well as what’ll happen to employees who breach the policy.

Social Media Policy

Social media use is rapidly increasing and becoming part of our working lives. A social media policy is essential to protect your company’s reputation, especially if employees list their place of employment on their profiles. Social media can blur the lines between professional and personal networks, so it’s a good idea to let employees know that how they behave on social media reflects on the business and could have consequences when it comes to their employment.

Privacy Policy

Employers have a responsibility to safeguard the personal information of employees and customers. Therefore, businesses must have a policy in place articulating how private information is used and managed. A privacy policy makes it clear what information is allowed to be made public, and what information needs to stay private or within the walls of the company. A privacy policy should include employee health records and personal information such as addresses, phone numbers and emails.

HR policies are a simple way to equip your business to handle a number of common workplace issues. With these 10 policies in place, your business is off to a great start. Of course, polices are not the only documents vital to both ensure and prove to regulators that compliance measures are in place. The most obvious of these is the Employment contract! You can also further reduce risk and ensure your employer obligations are met by keeping records of:

  • Health and safety risks and hazards generally;
  • Written records where health and safety is planned or discussed;
  • Induction documents that prove employees were inducted and had knowledge of procedures and policies; and
  • Job descriptions.

Our HR Software, HRA Cloud, allows you to download all these HR policies, and more. Our Workplace Relations Specialists can also draft tailored HR Policies and documentation to suit your unique business needs. Contact us to find out more.