Employment Disputes Series - Part 1: The role of Policies & Procedures

Posted by Malcolm Campbell on 06 December 2018
Employment Disputes Series - Part 1: The role of Policies & Procedures

Having well drafted policies and procedure in place can never be understated.  Together with a well-crafted employment contract they set up the framework within which the employment relationship can be effectively managed and regulated.

Many employers understand the importance of the employment contract but in our experience too often, employers do not have effective, clear or compliant policies and procedures.

Creating strong employment policies and complaint management procedures also enables you to respond with confidence when an employee’s behaviour or performance is not to the standard required.




Benefits & Objectives Of Workplace Policies and Procedures

  1. Helps employees identify the expected standards of behaviour;
  2. Aids in the creation of a workplace environment of the nature and style that the employer desires;
  3. Sets guidelines/framework for decision making processes;
  4. Help create consistency and transparency across an organisation, particularly in managing workplace issues arising from employee misconduct or inappropriate behaviour;
  5. If complied with enables employers to deal with employees fairly & equally
  6. Can help employers fulfil their obligations and responsibilities under certain legislation (e.g. work health and safety and discrimination legislation).
  7. Can greatly speed up the induction process for new employees;
  8. Can be readily implemented and/or amended as required

Considerations Before Preparing A Policy

  1. What does the policy need to accomplish?
  2. What are the outcomes desired?
  3. How does this policy support the development of the desired work culture?
  4. How will this policy be monitored and enforced?
  5. How will this policy impact a manager’s ability to act, for example, when reviewing performance, awarding promotions, approving leave, hiring or terminating?
  6. How has the client handled this issue in the past?
  7. Does the size of your client's workforce justify having a policy about this issue?
  8. Is the client willing to invest the time it takes to keep the policy up to date?
  9. Will this policy foster something your client believes in? For example, if an organization has a "family first" philosophy, it might want to have family-positive policies, such as flexible work hours.

General Tips For Workplace Policies

  1. Make sure your clients keep them up to date;
  2. Ensure that they are readily available and help your clients have a process in place where all employees are made aware of the existence of policies & the employer can prove that the employees were made aware of the policies (training, induction, signing them);
  3. Ensure that your clients' managers/supervisors are trained on the interpretation and application of policies;
  4. Ensure clients are enforcing them consistently and without discrimination;
  5. Develop forms specifically designed to be used to as part of compliance with policy;
  6. Although not necessarily conclusive on the issue, ensure that the client’s  contracts contain an express clause that states that the workplace policies do not form a part of the contract;
  7. Ensure the wording used in all parts of the contract are consistent internally within the contract but also with the terms of the policies; and
  8. Without policies around the core issues or concerns to employer (WHS, Discrimination, use of IT, social media, leave etc) it is infinitely harder to confidently manage and if necessary, 'fairly' dismiss employees.

With the combination of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act), the National Employment Standards (NES) and the Modern Awards, it has never been more important to enter into well written contracts of employment with staff.

In Part 2 of this series, we cover Workplace Investigation Best Practice highlighting the practical processes to follow if you are faced with a serious issue in your workplace.

In the meantime if you have concerns about your current employment polices & procedures, need help creating new contracts or if you need further advice or assistance regarding Employment Law please contact us and we can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation.