Workplace policies are an essential ingredient of any business, whether it’s a successful start-up, small business, or large corporation. Having good, well-written HR policies in place will help establish a clear understanding of expectations and standards, while also protecting the rights of employers. Unfortunately, while so important in a workplace, they are often one of the last things on the mind of a small business owner.

Water-tight policies will not only help employers manage staff more effectively by clearly defining what is acceptable and unacceptable workplace behaviour, but also help enforce the consequences for not complying with those policies.

To help you get on the right path to creating business policies, we’ve compiled a list of 12 HR policies all businesses should have:

1. Work Health & Safety Policy

Workplace injuries can affect your business in several ways including decreased productivity, sick pay obligations, the cost of finding a replacement and increased premiums. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policies outline safety procedures and the responsibilities of all employees to keep themselves and the workplace safe.

2. Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Did you know an employer can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination, bullying or harassment in their business? To minimise this risk, the business must show they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment from occurring. This is almost impossible if you don’t have a comprehensive policy in writing.

Having a policy in place communicates clearly to employees what constitutes bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, and any other form of inappropriate behaviour at work. A good policy will also outline procedures for dealing with complaints.

3. Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct is important for setting the standards 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 are in a better position to manage unacceptable conduct in the workplace if and when it arises.

4. Drugs and Alcohol Policy

The use of drugs and alcohol during and outside of work hours can present significant safety risks and costs to your business through injuries, absenteeism, and damage to company property. A drugs and alcohol policy will reiterate the business’s zero-tolerance approach while also communicating the potential for employees to be subjected to random testing.

5. Leave Policy

For businesses that experience seasonal busy periods, a leave policy can be extremely valuable. A leave policy can set out what can be expected during busy times, times when the business might be shut down, and what happens if an employee doesn’t have enough leave to cover this time.

6. Grievance Policy

Every business will have to deal with a workplace dispute at some point. Having a grievance policy in place acts as an important tool for employees to understand what steps they should follow when making or handling a complaint.

7. Performance Counselling & Discipline Policy

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

8. Internet and Email Policy

With the increased use of technology in businesses, it is important to establish what is appropriate and acceptable internet use. An internet and email policy will define what is the inappropriate use of company computers and internet resources, as well as the consequences an employee may face for breaching the policy.

9. Social Media Policy

Social media use is rapidly increasing and becoming incorporated into our working lives. A social media policy is essential to protecting your company’s reputation, especially if employees list their place of employment on their profiles. On social media, lines between professional and personal networks can become blurred, so it is a good idea to let employees know that how they behave on social media reflects on the business, and what may be the possible consequence of that behaviour.

10. 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 their private information is used and managed. A privacy policy makes it clear what information is allowed to be made public and what is required 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.

11. Driving & Motor Vehicle Policy

As driving becomes more and more common as a work activity, it is important to tell employees what is expected as they get out onto the roads. Whether they are driving a branded work vehicle or their personal vehicle, while they are driving for work purposes, the vehicle becomes their workplace. This means their behaviour, conduct and standards should be the same as when they are in the office. Safety policies relating to driving and motor vehicles should include a procedure for breakdowns and emergencies.

12. Working from Home Policy

A good portion of employees are now working at least part hours from home. The need for clear instruction and clarity around expectations has never been so key to managing employees and performance. How an employee works, where an employee works and when an employee works should all be captured in a Working from Home policy. A checklist to confirm specific set-ups and obligations is a handy way to practically implement a Working from Home policy.

How enableHR can help?

Drafting watertight policies can cost businesses thousands of dollars in legal fees, so it’s worth noting that every policy we mentioned is available inside of enableHR saving businesses money and time, with the biggest benefit, peace of mind. Every policy is drafted by FCB Workplace Law – our sister company and Australia’s leading employment lawyers so you can be certain your company’s policies are compliant.

We believe HR should be simple. Simple enough for you to run your business confidently. Inside enableHR is everything you need to manage the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to managing your people and termination. If you’d like to see enableHR in action, contact us to learn more about how we can help your business.