17 HR Polices every organization should have

Getting your HR processes right is essential. After all, most organizations need people to perform services or create products. Ensuring the right people with the right skills (or enthusiasm to learn new ones) are chosen is key to success.

This post written by Virginia Ripley, HR Practitioner, Cert Ed, BA Ed (Hons), Chartered MCIPD, details seventeen essential HR policies that every company should consider.

Recruitment

Good recruitment is key to most organization's success. Policies are needed throughout the recruitment process to maintain fairness and ensure that applicants are treated with care and respect. Recruitment policies, therefore, need to provide guidance on the following key areas:

  • The recruitment and selection process from drafting a job description/person specification, 
  • Advertising a vacancy internally and externally,
  • The application and shortlisting process,
  • Interviewing and selecting a successful candidate,
  • Pre-employment checks,
  • Appointing new and internal employees,
  • The consideration of equal opportunities and reasonable adjustments if disabled applicants request an adjustment,
  • The inclusion of managing internal and external secondments.

Absence

High levels of absence can have knock on effects across the entire organization. Colleagues may need to take on additional responsibilities, or services may not be performed. This policy aims to minimize the impact of absences on both the individual and the company by managing employee absences as effectively as possible. It is therefore in everyone's best interest to have a formal absence policy that should:

  • Describe a process to informally and formally manage employees’ persistent short term and long-term absence,
  • Include the management of underlying health conditions and reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

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Discipline

In an ideal world, employees will perform their duties efficiently and in line with expectations. Should this unfortunately not be the case, a disciplinary policy will be needed to set out how to informally and formally manage employee's conduct (misconduct and gross misconduct). Consideration needs to include absence without leave (AWOL) and the investigation process per the ACAS code of practice.

Grievance

A grievance policy should cover how to manage employee's concerns raised on an individual or collective basis. Ideally, it will include informal and formal stages, including the investigation process as per the ACAS code of practice.

Bullying and Harassment

This policy should detail how to manage allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace. It should also explain how employees can access appropriate support and advice. Examples of informal resolution and, where necessary, managing allegations via a formal process including a formal investigation should be included.

Whistleblowing

A whistleblowing policy should cover concerns raised against any wrongdoing, unethical or improper practice seen or observed in the workplace. The policy should also provide guidance for anonymous concerns.

Underperformance

This policy should provide guidance on how to manage employee performance issues. Both an informal and formal basis should be available for those who are underperforming in their role. Appropriate training, supervision, monitoring and support should be offered to enable employees to improve to the required standard.

Probation

Probation is a process that allows employees time (usually between 3 – 6 months) to settle into their new role. The process should enable the employee to clarify their job duties, take responsibility for meeting the required standards within their role regarding attendance, conduct and job performance. It should also include the opportunity to identify any required support or development opportunities where necessary. It is often beneficial to allow an extension (of 1 to 3 months) to the probation period to allow employees further time to improve their performance to pass their probation period.

Leave

An organization's leave policy should outline how an employee should request annual leave and planned absence, sell excess leave, buy additional leave and, in exceptional circumstances, carry leave forward to the next year.

Maternity, paternity and parental leave

This policy should clarify the guidance for pregnant employees and soon-to-be parents on their entitlement. In the UK this should include:

  • 52 weeks maternity leave (26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave).
  • How employees can choose to take paternity leave up to two consecutive weeks.
  • Guidance on how parents can share blocks of leave up to 50 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental leave (SPL) and up to 37 weeks of pay if having a baby, using a surrogate, adopting or fostering a child if planning to adopt.
  • How 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave per child and an adopted child (up to their 18th birthday) can be taken by each parent, 4 weeks per year (in a block of 1 or 2 weeks unless the company agrees anything different or the child is disabled).

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Organizational change and redundancy

This policy should set out how to manage early informal and formal consultations with employees. It should also include details on involving Staff Side and Trade Union representatives. This policy should be followed whenever a shift change, change of location, a change of job role, a departmental restructure, leading to voluntary or compulsory redundancy, or a TUPE transfer are involved.

Appeal

All employees in the UK have the statutory right to appeal against an outcome from a formal meeting or hearing if they feel it is unfair or unjust. They need to appeal within five days of receiving the outcome resulting from a disciplinary, capability, grievance, redundancy or flexible working request, for example. If the opportunity to appeal is not offered, it could go against a company if the case went to an Employment Tribunal.

The policy should include details on:

  • How to manage an appeal hearing.
  • Who hears the appeal,
  • Who can accompany employees,
  • How to review the original outcome imposed to determine if a fair and reasonable process was followed

If the original decision should be overturned or re-heard, then additional details including:

  • Confirmation of any appeal decision in writing,
  • Noting the decision is final and there is no more right of appeal.

Health and safety at work

This policy should provide guidance on how to maintain a safe working environment for employees. This should include minimizing the risk of work-related mental health issues as well as injury.

In the UK, Companies have a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work for their employees. Companies can achieve this by providing safe equipment, ensuring employees are adequately trained, risk assessments are completed and appointing a Health and Safety Officer. 

Working from home

This policy should provide guidance on the policy's purpose, who is eligible, work expectations, legal aspects, tools and equipment, IT support options, setting up adequate work stations, confidentiality, data security and health and safety rules.

Offering WFH as a way of working has both company and individual advantages. It improves morale and retains staff and reduces office space's financial cost. During and following the Covid pandemic, some companies now promote hybrid working (time split between working from home and the office).

Flexible Working

In the UK, employees have the legal right to request flexible working if they have worked for a company for at least 26 weeksExamples of flexible working could be job sharing, working from home (as a reasonable adjustment for disabled employees), hybrid working, part-time working, compressed hours, flexitime, staggered hours and phased retirement. This could be temporary with an agreed trial period or a permanent change.

A process on how to manage a flexible working request should be outlined for; accepting a request, offering an alternative or declining a request which should also include the right to appeal the outcome.

Equality and Diversity

A written agreement outlining how a company can ensure all employees are treated equally with dignity and respect. Employees should be free from discrimination in a safe and inclusive workplace to enable advancement on the basis of merit and ability regardless of their protected characteristics; age, race, sex, colour, religion or disability for example.

Health and Wellbeing

A Health and Wellbeing policy should offer guidance, support and resources for employees on reducing stress, fatigue, musculoskeletal issues and health generally through daily positive changes. This should lead to a reduction in sickness or absence, and create higher levels of engagement which increases productivity.

Also worth considering:

Employee handbook

The employee handbook should provide employees with company information all in one place about its mission, purpose, values, holiday and sick pay entitlement and a summary of its policies.

About the Author:

Virginia Ripley - HR Practitioner, Cert Ed, BA Ed (Hons), Chartered MCIPD.

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