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Where To Start In Policy Development

SHAMEELA WINSTON
Employment policies are tedious.

There is no denying that. Reading through that bulky document is boring. Writing that document is laborious.

Reviewing it and ensuring ongoing compliance with prevailing standards is time consuming.

Very few people really feel motivated to look at the policies, not until there is a dispute. This is why, despite the monotony involved, it is critically important to ensure that your employment policies are relevant, up-to-date, enforced and understood by all in the organisation.

It is also important to make sure that there is consistency in all the instruments that are born of these policies, such as the employment contract and the performance contract.

Employment policies are an important part of culture management in the organisation because they promote and preserve equity, clarity, harmony and consistency. Policies assure compliance with applicable employment laws and help the organisation to adhere to best practice. Employment policies help the business to cultivate and maintain an environment conducive to meeting their organisational goals.

Apart from ensuring that your policies are not contrary to employment laws, there are no right or wrong policies to include in your policy manual.

What is important is just to make sure that what you have addresses your specific employment relationship needs. Let us perhaps consider some of the policy statements that should always be included:

 Business Value Proposition

An overview of what the business mandate is, as well as what the business stands for in terms of organisational values and standards, is usually included in the policy manual as a reinforcement of cultural expectations.

 Employee Position Descriptions

There has to be a policy defining how job descriptions are written, validated and communicated for every role in the organisation, including their level of responsibility, amount of authority for decision-making, overarching goals and specific tasks. 

Performance Management

It must be clearly defined in writing how performance is identified, monitored, and supported. It must also be clear what action is taken in the event of poor performance.

 Staff Movements

 The criteria considered for acting appointments, transfer, re-deployment, promotion, demotion, and retirement need to be clearly described.

 Conditions of Service

 These are often overtaken by events such that what is written is different from what is practised because the team was trying to keep up with business realities. Business hours, salary adjustments and dates of payment, terms of employment (temporary,

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casual, permanent, contract basis, probation rules) insurance and health benefits, paid vs. unpaid vacation days, sick leave, and retirement.

 Leave, overtime and expectations of an annual bonus and salary increase are hotbeds of conflict and resentment and it needs to be made very clear, on an ongoing basis, how these aspects of remuneration are treated.

 Organisational Structure

The employment policy document must be based on an official and accessible organisational structure that shows authority levels, reporting relationships and how each job or role fits into the structure of the organisation.

Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Action

This policy needs to be updated to include/reflect current realities and developments in both the working space and the labour market in general. For instance, in may be that your code of conduct did not cater for social media when it was first adopted, but with increasing use of internet and the various devices in the workplace, it becomes necessary to incorporate these new tools of work into the code of conduct. That is just one example. The point is that it is important to determine what constitutes a violation of company policy on an ongoing basis, as well as how employees will be disciplined if they violate certain rules in accordance with prevailing employment laws.

 Wellness Policy and Safety

Use industry best practices and relevant laws as guidelines to create rules detailing what wellness standards at work entail, what safe behaviour at work looks like, how to use safety equipment, how to report safety hazards, etc.

Technology

 Establish what’s acceptable and what’s not in regards to internet, email and social media usage for both work and personal purposes on the company networks.

 Record management

Policies to protect sensitive staff information must be updated to keep up with developments in how we store and disseminate information across different platforms.

This would be your starting point. Look at your own business needs and determine what other policies are needed. After you have produced a fantastic set of employment policies that are aligned with business needs, compliant with law and comparable to best practice, you need to ensure that all staff are properly trained on them so that there is a common understanding, there is ownership and there is an increased likelihood of adherence to the polices.



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