Every business with employees needs a set of rules. Business employee policies are guidelines that provide a framework for employees to know how to conduct themselves appropriately while working. Without a comprehensive set of company policies, there is room for misunderstanding and misconduct within a company.
While each business’s policies will be unique to the company, industry, culture, size, and business activities, there are two general rules that apply when creating a company policy. First, it’s important to be clear and concise with phrasing and terminology. While details are important, you want the policy to simply state the rule. Second, be careful about what details are included in the company policy. Leave enough flexibility if circumstances change.
Whether you’re updating existing company policies or creating a new employee handbook, here are ten policies to consider when you review your business employee policies.
1. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
The United States mandates that all employers provide equal opportunities for employment regardless of a person’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, sex, etc. Federal law prohibits workplace discrimination, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces these regulations. This applies only to employers with more than 15 employees.
Thus, to ensure your company is supporting a non-discriminatory workplace, develop and enforce a strong anti-discrimination policy. This type of policy ensures your employees understand both their rights and responsibilities under the law.
2. Code of Conduct Policy
A code of conduct policy is used to set the standard in terms of employee behavior and performance. This is where your employees look to learn more about the company’s culture and expectations. Code of conduct policies may cover the following topics:
- Company values;
- Employee behavior;
- Dress code;
- Breaks during work hours;
- Harassment, abuse, or bullying;
- Drug and alcohol use;
- Conflicts of interest; and
- Reporting misconduct.
For each topic, you can elaborate as much or as little as you think is appropriate. The key is to be clear and concise.
3. Ethics Policy
Not only do you want your employees to act ethically when representing your company, but there are some ethical requirements under the law. For example, those in the legal and financial fields typically have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which is the highest legal standard of care. A comprehensive ethics policy can help employees determine the appropriate course of action in certain situations. A strong ethics policy can also lead to a good reputation for the company.
4. Attendance, Tardiness, and Time Off Policies
Absent or tardy employees create disruption within a company. With an attendance policy, you can specify what is considered tardy or absent and how far in advance an employee must request time off. Your policy should also explain the consequences of violating the attendance policy.
When it comes to vacation time, or paid time off (PTO), create a system where employees can request time off. The policy should explain whether time off is paid, how much they can take at one time, and if the time off accrues or is lost at the end of the year.
5. Workplace Safety Policy
Providing a safe and healthy work environment for your employees is incredibly important. Not only do you want to protect your employees, but you want to minimize workplace hazards, particularly if your line of business is inherently dangerous.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources to help develop a strong workplace safety policy. For example, your policy may include protocols to follow in the event of an emergency or information on how to report an incident to OSHA.
6. Communication and Device Policy
Many companies provide employees with their own computers, laptops, cellphones, and other devices for work-related purposes. A communications policy is necessary to explain what is appropriate use and what is not when using a company device. For example, a business may permit limited personal use of a cell phone.
If your company does not provide devices for its employees, your policy should specify whether employees may use their own devices for work purposes. If the policy does permit personal devices for professional use, then outline approved uses, approved devices, security measures, the use of monitoring software, and any other policies related to the use of personal devices.
7. Disciplinary Action Policy
Once you establish the company’s expectations for its employees, make the employees aware of the consequences of violating a company policy. With a disciplinary action policy, outline the process and what actions the company can take when an employee engages in misconduct.
To ensure your disciplinary action policy does not violate any employment laws or regulations, consult an employment legal matters attorney.
8. Compensation and Employee Benefits Policy
Employees are attracted to comprehensive compensation and employee benefits. A company policy covering these topics is a great way to explain exactly what you will provide and what the employee is entitled to receive.
Employees may have certain entitlements under federal and state law, such as payroll deductions, overtime, workers’ compensation, and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Contact an employment legal matters lawyer at Smithey Law Group to make sure the company policy covers all legal bases.
9. Employee Complaint Policy
Having a formal complaint filing process for your employees is important for several reasons. First, you want your employees to know they can voice their complaints in a professional way. Second, if misconduct is occurring within your company or the workplace environment is not safe, you want to know about it.
Consider including a non-retaliation clause or separate policy so employees will come forward without fear of retaliation from management or co-workers.
10. Employee Termination Policy
A thorough termination policy may save your company from a contentious lawsuit. When you have clear rules about when, why, and how your company can terminate an employee, there is little room for misinterpretation.
This list of policies to consider when you review your business employee policies may not apply in its entirety.
Contact Smithey Law Group LLC
At Smithey Law Group LLC, we exclusively practice labor and employment law. Our legal team have 158 years of combined legal experience and are equipped to tackle the most complex legal issues. Call 410-881-8814 or request an initial consultation online today.