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Why are HR policies and procedures important? 

HR policies are documents that set out how an employer approaches a particular workplace issue, responsibility, or opportunity. They explain key background information, relevant legal frameworks, and the employer’s and their staff members’ relevant commitments, responsibilities, and procedures. 

There are certain HR policies and procedures that all employers must have in place. There are other policies that employers must have in place, or must have a written version of, if they are a certain size (eg if they employ a certain number of people). 

Regardless of whether HR policies are required, creating them and implementing the measures they set out is an excellent way for an employer to ensure legal compliance, staff wellbeing, and business efficiency. HR policies can help to clarify the rights and obligations of an employment relationship. 

For more information, read HR policies and procedures

The HR policies checklist

Exactly which HR policies and procedures are appropriate for a particular employer depends on their business' size and needs, their workforce’s composition and working arrangements, and any sector-specific requirements (eg your business may deal with hazardous substances, food, or vulnerable people). 

Use this checklist to learn which policies may be relevant to you and to ensure that you have all relevant policies in place.



If you engage 5 or more employees, you must have a written Health and safety policy in place. This policy: 

  • deals with workplace health and safety issues (eg accident reporting, what to do in case of a fire, and display and screen equipment (DSE) considerations)

  • sets out your commitment to reducing risks and observing legal duties relevant to the workplace and to your business

  • sets out your employees’ duties in relation to health and safety and how they can meet these obligations


Consider creating an Employee vaccination policy to set out your approach to staff vaccinations. For example, which vaccinations you encourage your staff members to have and why. For more information, read Vaccinations in the workplace and How to record the vaccination status of staff.


Under the UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, you are required to comply with the principles for processing (eg storing and obtaining) personal data (eg names and addresses), including being transparent and providing information to employees about how their personal data is used.

To meet these obligations, you should consider having in place:


Employers must give their employees a written statement of the particulars of their employment when they begin their employment. This is usually provided as part of an Employment contract

The written statement) should either contain or refer to disciplinary rules and procedures. Consider creating a Disciplinary procedure to refer to, in which you outline your business’ disciplinary process.


Consider creating a Grievance procedure to set out the steps that employees and employers should take to address any workplace grievances. These are any problems, issues, or concerns that an employee encounters in the workplace. Having a grievance procedure helps you to be a fair employer.


Employers may be liable for the actions of an employee where there is a case of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination in the course of employment. To prevent this, consider having in place: 


Consider making a Sickness policy to set out how you deal with sickness absence among your staff members. This deals with sickness reporting, prolonged absences, and sick pay.


Employees have a variety of rights related to starting and raising their families, including rights to:

Consider making the following policies to help ensure that the rights above are upheld and to explain the relevant processes within your business:


Employees have a right to take time off work to assist their dependants if they’re involved in sudden or unexpected emergency situations. Create a Time off for dependants policy to inform employees about this right and associated procedures and to help your business comply with its obligation to grant this type of leave.


You should set out your approach to employee holidays in an Annual leave policy. This will ensure that employees know how much holiday they can take and how to request it.


If an eligible employee requests a flexible working arrangement (ie any working arrangement different from the default), their employer must handle this request in a prescribed, reasonable manner. Such requests can only be rejected for one of the reasons permitted by law (eg because it would have a detrimental effect on the employer’s ability to meet customer demands).

Putting in place a Flexible working policy can help your business comply with the law and can help ensure that your employees understand the process of making and dealing with flexible working requests.


Consider putting in place a Working from home policy, outlining your approach to homeworking (a type of flexible working). This policy will cover: 

  • who is eligible to work from home

  • the process for requesting to work from home

  • the approval process

This policy ensures that employees are informed of their rights to work from home (either on a regular or an ad-hoc basis), while showing that your business considers your employees’ specific and personal needs.

If your workplace utilises a hybrid working model, whereby staff members can work remotely some of the time and from your business’ premises the rest of the time, consider making a Hybrid working policy to set out your arrangements and processes. 


If any of your staff members work alone at any time, isolated from colleagues (eg remotely or by themselves on your business’ premises), consider making a Lone working policy to explain how you meet your health and safety and other obligations towards these staff members.


If you allow staff members to use the business’ IT equipment for personal purposes, make it clear to staff that their use must be lawful and reasonable and must not interfere with their productivity or duties. Consider publishing your IT usage rules in a Communications and equipment policy.


Posting anything via a social media platform carries the risk of being damaging to a business. You can reduce this risk by adopting a Social media policy, which sets out what is and isn't acceptable regarding social media usage and postings. Bullying via social media can also be a problem in the workplace - this is another matter that can be covered by such a policy.


Consider making an Environmental policy to set out your business’ commitment to preserving the environment. Having such a policy in place helps your business to comply with any environmental laws, keep employees informed about their environmental roles and responsibilities, and minimise harm to the environment.


Consider making a Menopause policy to set out how your business will support staff experiencing menopause. Employers can ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations related to workplace health and safety and equal opportunities by implementing a menopause policy.  

Jury service is an important civic duty. It’s important that employers follow the law and facilitate their staff members’ performing jury service when possible. You can create a Jury service policy to set out how you do this. This policy can also help you to clarify your rules and legal obligations regarding staff members’ pay and time off for jury service.


Redundancy is one of the potentially fair reasons to dismiss an employee.

Whether you are running a small or large business, any redundancy processes need to be dealt with fairly and consistently. A carefully written Redundancy policy ensures that staff are aware of their rights when being made redundant and helps you to avoids the risk of unfair dismissal claims down the line. It shows that management is concerned about employees' welfare and employment security.


If your staff members are entitled to receive any staff benefits or expenses, consider making an Expense policy to clearly set out what is claimable and how claims can be made. This helps you to comply with tax requirements and anti-bribery laws.

If your staff members make arrangements with clients or partners, consider making an Anti-bribery policy to help ensure that their interactions do not breach anti-bribery laws

If your organisation works with children and/or adults at risk of harm, it’s prudent to create a Safeguarding policy to build upon your procedures for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of these individuals.  
Under whistleblowing law, workers and employees who make ‘protected disclosures’ about wrongdoing within their employer’s organisation cannot be subject to a detriment (eg dismissal) for doing so. Consider making a Whistleblowing policy to set out staff members’ rights in relation to such disclosures.  
Utilising artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is a great way of increasing your business’ efficiency, innovation, and output. However, AI use carries risks. You can create an AI policy to help inform staff members about these risks and to impose rules and procedures on workplace AI use.  


You can consolidate lots of your business’ core HR policies in an Employee handbook

How else can I ensure I comply with employment laws?

Employment is a complex area of law. Falling foul of employment laws can have serious consequences for a business ethically, financially, and reputationally.

Creating HR policies and procedures, like those set out above, is a great way of mitigating this risk. Other key mitigation measures include:

  • ensuring you have strong and comprehensive contracts in place to shape your employment relationships (eg Employment contracts)  

  • familiarising yourself with the rules on core employment processes (eg hiring and firing)

  • recognising when an employment issue carries significant legal risk and when it may be appropriate to Ask a lawyer for assistance

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