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HR policies and procedures

Employers of a certain size are legally required to have in place a health and safety policy. Other HR policies and procedures can help regulate and clarify the rights and obligations in an employment relationship.
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If an employer has five or more employees, a written Health and safety policy is mandatory. This policy deals with a number of health and safety workplace issues, including accident reporting and what to do in case of a fire. The policy must set out the employer’s commitment to reduce risks and observe legal duties relevant to the workplace and its business. It will also set out what employees’ duties are in relation to health and safety and how they can meet these obligations. 

The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), the main legislation implementing the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the UK, requires employers to comply with the principles for processing personal data, including being transparent and providing information to employees about personal data and how it is used. Employers can meet this obligation by providing an Employee privacy notice when an employee starts work and by having a Data protection and security policy in place.

In addition to the legal requirement for certain employers to have a written health and safety policy, employers should consider adopting other key policies and procedures as a matter of good practice, depending on size and the nature of the business.

The written statement of employment which employers must give their employees as a matter of law (generally as part of the Employment contract) should either contain or refer to disciplinary rules and procedures. Many employers will create a separate Disciplinary procedure to deal with these critical issues which should take account of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Hand in hand with this often goes a Grievance procedure which helps to demonstrate your credentials as a fair employer.

An Equal opportunities policy should set out your commitment to equal opportunities in matters such as recruitment. It must comply with the Equality Act 2010.

An Anti-harassment and bullying policy should set out your business’ approach towards workplace bullying and harassment. As employers can be liable for the actions of an employee where there is a case of workplace bullying and/or harassment, having this policy in place can help show that all ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent such behaviour have been taken.

Employers should consider having a data protection and data security policy in place, to cover how confidential information is stored and its obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018. 

A Sickness policy helps you deal with sickness absence among your staff, including sickness reporting, prolonged absence and sick pay.

An Anti-bribery and corruption policy can help in demonstrating compliance with the Bribery Act 2010, and a Communications and use of equipment policy, covers employee use of the internet and other company IT or communication devices. 

Generally, employers will be liable for what their employees do on social media in connection with their employment. As a result, employers may wish to examine and make use of information from employees’ personal social media usage to make employment decisions. This, however, raises difficult issues of discrimination, privacy and data protection. Consider having a Social media policy in place which outlines the rules so that everyone in your business knows how to tackle this area.

In terms of leave entitlement, Maternity and Paternity policies are important. It's also worth considering putting into place a Parental leave policyFlexible working policy and a Working from home policy.

When it comes to ending employment, employers can consider adopting a retirement policy and a Redundancy policy.

Other policies can be introduced, in addition to all the policies mentioned above. Employers must consider the specific needs of their business and, in particular, take account of any sector-specific requirements (eg dealing with hazardous substances).

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