Ensuring the right document is in the right place at the right time when it comes to managing your HR policies and procedures.
Company policies and procedures are a means for businesses and organizations to formally set out what they intend to do, and how they will carry out the stated objectives.
Policies are documented guidelines establishing the rules of conduct within an organization. They are in place to protect the rights of workers as well as the company. Procedures on the other hand, are documented instructions describing how and when a task should be done. They are in place to transform your company’s business objectives and goals into results-oriented actions.
Policies and Procedures in Human Resources
HR policies and procedures can encompass everything from employee conduct, to equal opportunity, attendance, vacation, overtime, substance abuse, safety and security, and more. SHRM (the Society of Human Resource Management) offers an excellent library of example HR policies.
Managing HR policies and procedures is fundamental to ensure that all employees understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company. When an employee or a company deviates from the stated policies, the action may lead to an employee termination or the company being held liable in court as a breach of contract.
HR Policies and Procedures Maintain Compliance
Properly managed HR policies and procedures ensure legal compliance that protect your company from possible legal action or employee fraud. When required Human Resources policies and procedures do not exist or are not reviewed, approved, kept up-to-date, and audited for compliance – your company is at risk.
Courts have ruled against companies that fail to follow their HR policies or procedures. Recently a court decided a case where an employee was terminated without following the company’s released termination procedure. The company had instead been using an outdated version of the procedure that incorrectly identified causes for termination. The court awarded the employee 6 months of salary for the unfair termination.
In another case, an employee was dismissed for coming to work smelling of alcohol. However, the employer’s substance misuse policy had not been kept up-to-date to ban employees from drinking alcohol before work. The employment tribunal found that the dismissal was a wrongful termination.
Employee policies and procedures that are not reviewed before release can do more harm than good. For instance, not controlling or authorizing overtime can create significant liability for employers. Overtime policies must be correctly structured to limit unauthorized overtime. As a best practice, prior to release, new and updated policies and procedures should be submitted for review and approval by designated managers, HR and/or legal. Upon release, retention rules and periodic internal compliance audits should be scheduled and tracked.
Goal Achieved with Document Management
Maintaining your company policies and procedures in a centralized secure document management system affords control and compliance. Include areas for templates, masters, released and obsolete documents. Establish document expiration dates with notification reminders and create document lifecycle reports.
Employment laws change frequently. Though not every change necessitates a new version of a policy or procedure, they should be reviewed regularly so they can be amended or updated when appropriate. Once you have a workable structure in place, you will be able to make revisions and updates as your company grows and regulations change.
Keeping policies up-to-date ensures decision makers and employees are informed. What is important is that everyone in your company knows about the released policies and procedures, reads and understands them, and knows where to quickly find them when they are needed.