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Manage your employees effectively by making the correct HR policies



  • HR considerations

    The fast-changing nature of employment law means that it's important to have a comprehensive set of up-to-date HR policies and procedures in place. These can help set out the rights and obligations of those responsible for administering HR and employees.

    There are a wide variety of HR policies that can be adopted. A written Health and safety policy is compulsory if you have five or more employees. Other policies can help set out how employment matters such as discipline, employee grievances, parental leave, and issues such as discrimination and equal treatment are dealt with. Having these HR policies incorporated into your business will give your employees clarity and certainty. The prevalence of IT used by employees and the challenges which it brings, such as data protection and the popularity of flexible working, are addressed by other policies.

  • What is health and safety?

    One of the key duties of any employer is to protect the health and safety of anyone who works for them. This can range from ensuring that there aren't any hazards in an office which can cause injury, to providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for members of staff working with dangerous machinery in a factory setting. All businesses with five or more employees are legally required to have a written Health and safety policy outlining the responsibilities of managers and employees. Staff should be made aware of first-aid arrangements and an accident log should be kept, recording all major workplace injuries. Employers are also required to have employer's liability insurance in place. For more information, read Health and safety.

  • Equal opportunities and discrimination in the workplace

    The development of equality law means that it's vital for all processes and decisions relating to employment, including those relating to recruitment, progression and dismissal, are to be completely free from all unlawful types of discrimination. There are specific 'protected characteristics' including sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation and religious or philosophical belief, which must not be used as a basis for any employment-related decisions. An Equal opportunities policy tackles this sensitive area and gives staff confidence in your status as an impartial and responsible employer. An Anti-harassment and bullying policy further sets out what measures a business takes to eliminate and prevent harassment and bullying in the workplace. For more information, read Equal opportunities and discrimination.

  • Flexible working and working from home

    All employees with at least 26 weeks' service have a statutory right to request flexible working. Applications must be dealt with in a 'reasonable manner' and employees must be notified of a decision on their application within 14 days. It can be used by any employee who has worked at their company long enough and who has not made a request in the last 12 months. Consider having a clear Flexible working policy in place which covers the types of flexible working available, the process for making requests, how they will be considered, the potential reasons for refusing a request and informal flexible working requests. For more information, read Flexible working.

    Employers should also consider putting in place a Working from home policy in place. This document outlines the employer's approach to home working - defining who is eligible to work from home, the process for requesting to work from home, as well as the approval process. Having this policy in place ensures that employees are informed on their rights to work from home (either on a regular or ad-hoc basis) while showing that businesses consider their employees’ specific and personal needs.

  • Employee use of IT and social media

    The increased use of technology and IT means that employees have to be aware of any rules or policies relating to the use of IT and any IT equipment. It's important that all the members of staff understand how they are permitted to use company IT systems and devices. This can be important for various reasons, including sticking to data usage policies and keeping bills down, as well as ensuring that employees do not spend too much time using IT for personal activities and focus on their professional responsibilities. A well-written Communications and equipment policy will clearly outline to managers and staff all the relevant rules and procedures. It can also detail any monitoring that takes place, if applicable, and may refer to your Data protection policy. For more information, read Employee use of IT.

    An important risk facing businesses is the posting of anything via a social media platform which is potentially damaging for a company. This risk can be reduced with the adoption of a Social media policy, which sets out what is and isn't acceptable in respect of social media usage and postings. Bullying via social media can also be a problem in the workplace and another matter which can be covered by such a policy. For more information, read Employees and social media.

  • Why is data protection important?

    The increasing prevalence of IT has created various challenges with regard to the protection of private or personal data. A Data protection and data security policy gives assurance to your staff and clients that their data is being handled in accordance with relevant laws and securely managed. It also sets out the responsibilities of employees when processing the data of your customers. Employers should also inform employees about the types of data they might collect about them and what they do with it in an Employee privacy notice. This is a statement detailing how you collect, use, retain and disclose personal information.

    For more information, read Data protection and employees.

  • Why have a disciplinary procedure?

    A Disciplinary procedure clearly explains the disciplinary process to employees. This includes investigations, hearings and companions. It also provides employees with examples of unsatisfactory behaviour and gross misconduct. Implementing one shows a commitment to a fair process and leaves employees in no doubt about what is acceptable and what is not. For more information, read Disciplinary warnings.

  • Why have a grievance procedure?

    Implementing a Grievance procedure allows employers to deal with all grievances raised by employees fairly and consistently. A grievance procedure explains how to raise a grievance, the process and gives examples of types of grievances that can be raised by employees. For more information, read Employee grievances and raising grievances.

  • Why have an environmental policy?

    An Environmental policy makes a statement about a company's commitment to preserving the environment. It will help a business comply with any environmental laws, keep employees informed about their environmental roles and responsibilities and minimise harm to the environment. For more information, read Environmental policy.

  • What about bereavements?

    Employees are legally entitled to 'reasonable' time off work to deal with emergencies, including bereavement involving a dependant (eg a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone else who depends on the employee for care). What is considered a 'reasonable' time off is not defined - and will therefore depend on the specific circumstances. There is no legal requirement for an employer to pay an employee for time taken off work due to a bereavement. It is recommended that employers create a Bereavement leave policy to set out their business' approach towards bereavement leave. For more information, read Bereavement leave and pay.

    Further, qualifying parents who have lost a child, have a legal right to take bereavement leave. Parents who have lost a child under 18 (or where a child was stillborn after 24 weeks’ pregnancy), on or after the 6th of April 2020, are entitled to take up to two weeks off to allow them time to grieve. Parental bereavement leave can be paid or unpaid depending on how long the employer has worked for the employee. For more information, read Parental bereavement leave.

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