How to protect staff and your business with the right HR policies
Any major milestone in your growth deserves celebrating, and being able to employ people is definitely one of them.
Once you become an employer, you immediately take onboard numerous responsibilities.
Whether you’ve got one employee or thousands, you must think about how to look after your expanded team.
HR policies play a major role, acting as the cornerstone for your people management, giving you and your employees a place to turn to for guidance on key areas such as contracts, pay and time off.
What exactly are HR policies?
HR policies are written statements or rules which provide guidance on a wide range of employment topics and how they should be handled within the business.
Their role is to ensure fairness and consistency and potentially help protect against legal claims.
Policies include things like an employment contract, which provides written terms explaining salary, pay frequency, working hours, annual leave entitlements and other rights/responsibilities which must be given to the employee on or before the first day of work –important stuff, right?
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Critical HR policies you need to have
If you embrace HR policies, you’ll protect your people and make your business a fantastic place to work.
As well as employment contracts, when thinking about your business' HR policies, consider covering the following:
Attendance and timekeeping
Some businesses need staff in at regular set times.
If that’s the case for you, it’s time to set up an attendance policy, which often includes schedules, tracking, expectations, procedures for absences and disciplinary measures.
A timekeeping policy is also needed to calculate hours worked for pay and overtime; these can consider time worked, time not worked, how time is to be recorded and how disputes over timekeeping are to be managed/resolved.
Health & safety
When looking to create a health & safety policy, think of it as a way to outline your business' commitment and approach to managing staff welfare in the workplace.
Three areas to cover in your health & safety policy include the statement of intent (your aims and objectives), roles & responsibilities (who has specific responsibilities for health & safety) and your arrangements (likely the largest part of the policy, detailing how risks are managed).
A happy and healthy workforce needs to recharge, and rest breaks are set out in law for that reason.
Workers over 18 are entitled to three types of breaks:
Rest breaks at work: one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during the working day if an employee works more than 6 hours.
Daily rest: employees have the right to an 11-hour rest between working days. For example, if they finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start again until 7am the following day.
Weekly rest: employees have a right to an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week and an uninterrupted 48 hours each fortnight.
Leave and time off
You need a leave and time-off policy to articulate the process for applying for contractual leave entitlement + guidance on additional forms of leave that are available.
Under the Equality Act (2010), businesses are required to protect the rights of staff and prevent discrimination.
The goal of your anti-discrimination policy should be to guarantee that human rights are exercised without any discrimination of any kind based on factors such as race, sex, language, religion, etc.
We can all agree that workplace harassment can't be tolerated, and putting a policy in place goes a long way in ensuring that.
Your anti-harassment policy must cover the definitions of harassment in addition to how staff can report incidents, the process for investigation and potential disciplinary actions.
What other HR duties do you need to carry out?
Of course, HR doesn’t stop here.
A wealth of professional and people skills need to become a part of your toolkit if you are going to build a well-looked-after workplace that gets the best out of your people.
This can include managing employee performance, looking after wellbeing and recruiting new staff.
Done right, this will make your business a desirable place to work, but done wrong, you could be open to lawsuits and staff running out the door.
Want to be a true HR superhero? Read our complete guide to Getting HR right, which covers all these HR policies in even more detail as well as plenty of other key areas of HR.