How can employment policies benefit business?

Ensuring that your company has a comprehensive set of up-to-date employment policies and procedures allows your employees to understand their rights and responsibilities and helps the management team to fulfil any legal obligations.

The fast changing pace of employment law and the numerous regulations – many of which derive from Brussels – mean that businesses are often hard pressed to keep up with all the red tape. David Cameron was recently urged to reduce the number of EU laws by an organisation called Fresh Start, which is reportedly “backed by more than 100 Conservative members of parliament and has close links to senior ministers”.

Whatever your views on this topic, at the moment there are a whole range of laws which govern the workplace in the UK, from health and safety duties to management of parental leave. All of these must be followed to the letter to avoid the threat of legal action. Employment policies can help make sure you don’t fall foul of any legislation.

What kind of employment policies do I need?

Any business with five or more employees is legally required to have a written health and safety policy outlining the responsibilities of managers and employees

Preparing for staff members who decide to start a family can often be a challenge for growing businesses and this is where a maternity policy or a parental leave policy can be extremely useful, helping keep employees informed on when leave can be taken and the required notification.

An equal opportunities policy tackles the sensitive area of discrimination and gives staff confidence in your status as an impartial and responsible employer.

You should also have a workplace disciplinary procedure, as well as a grievance procedure, to handle any problems which may arise. These should be in line with the Acas statutory Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. If a dispute ends up in an employment tribunal, failure to follow this code can affect the result.

Modern policies for modern workers

The increasing prevalence of IT in today’s workplaces has thrown up various legal challenges over the last couple of decades, both with regards to data protection requirements and the use of computer equipment by employees. A data protection and data security policy gives confidence to your staff and clients that their data is being handled in accordance with relevant laws and securely managed.

Meanwhile, a social media policy helps protect your organisation from potential defamation claims which can arise from misguided tweets or posts, by setting out exactly what is and isn’t permitted when it comes to the use of tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Many of your tech-savvy workers will want to take advantage of the growing trend in flexible working which is being driven by technology, rising office costs and the statutory right to request flexible working by parents and carers. A flexible working policy can set out the types of flexible working available at your company, who is eligible and how to make a request.

Rocket Lawyer UK offers a range of up-to-date HR policies and procedures which can help your business to comply with its employment law obligations. For more information, take a look at our legal centre for HR policies containing all the information and documents you need.