Updated: Jul 28, 2022
Organisations need policies just like society needs laws to create order and common understandings. Often I hear ‘we’re too small an organisation for policies’ or ‘we like to keep things loose and we don’t like to be restricted by policies’, however, the absence of policies with even just one employee leaves organisations at risk of employment claims with no legal protection.
HR policies are fundamental to set out the expectations of your organisation and the responsibilities of both the employer and all employees. They are also the foundation to build a culture of trust and transparency and should reflect your standards of professional behaviour. With human nature being what it is, employees will test limits and act “creatively” in workplace situations, so you need a strategy to prepare for this.
Certain policies such as discipline and grievance are a mandatory part of employment law but even where a policy or procedure isn’t specifically required by law, employers often find it helpful to have a policy in place to provide clear guidance and to help employees to be clear about the organisation’s stance on a particular subject.
A recent tribunal case highlights exactly this; an employee won an unfair dismissal claim after she was fired from a bar for sharing a social media post alleging that her boss was “inappropriate” to customers and members of staff (see the full report here: Lincoln bar worker sacked after exposing 'creepy' boss wins unfair dismissal claim - Lincolnshire Live). The employment judge ruled that the bar had no social media or disciplinary policy warning employees that the behaviour engaged in by [Miss Trench] is even a disciplinary issue. Although no compensatory awards are stated, currently the maximum for unfair dismissal is 52 weeks pay or £93,878.
Whatever your approach, the key to success is to devote the time and resources it takes to develop a strategy for your business before the need arises. It’s an investment that can pay large dividends in increased productivity and minimised litigation.
If you would like help developing and implementing your HR policies and procedures or want to review your people strategy please don’t hesitate to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a no obligation call to discuss.