Policies are a necessary management tool in any organisation. While there is no doubt of their widespread use, it is important to review the effectiveness of your workplace policies both from a legal and operational point of view.
The following five principles form the foundation of a successfully implemented and enforceable policy.
- DO NOT INCORPORATE POLICIES INTO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
Policies can become contractually binding because of either an express or an implied term in an employment contract. If policies are contractually binding, compliance from both employee and employer is required. Policies can remain effective without risking a potential breach of contract claim if there is non-compliance by the employer.
- HAVE WELL-DRAFTED POLICIES
Awell-drafted policy should clearly define the scope and application of the policy, outline the consequences of breaching the policy, and accurately reflect the core values of the organisation.
- IMPLEMENT AND CO-ORDINATE POLICIES
Policies should be accessible, and employees should be provided with regular periodic training and updates of any changes, to ensure awareness and genuine understanding of the policy. Policies should also be consistent with the terms of the contract of employment and any other internal policies and documents outlining the process or procedure.
- CONSISTENTLY ENFORCE POLICIES
One of the primary tenets of a legally enforceable policy is one that has been applied and enforced consistently over time to relevant employees.
- REVIEW AND UPDATE POLICIES PERIODICALLY
Policies should remain relevant to the organisation and its employees. It is recommended that a flexibility clause should be included in the contract of employment permitting changes to policies where required.
Key indicators of an ineffective policy include difficulties with applying and enforcing the terms of a policy. By following the outlined principles, organisations can be given the necessary foundation for a best practice workplace.
Source: Thea Price, lawyer, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors.