Set up employment policies for your business

Employment policies: what types should I use?

The employment policies that you have will depend on the size and nature of your business. For example, if your staff operate machinery, it may be a good idea to implement a specific staff policy on drugs and alcohol use. If most of your staff use computers most of the time, you should have an email and internet acceptable use policy.

Common types of employment policies

Type of Employment policy Further Information
Maternity/paternity/adoption policy Maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave
Working time and time off policy Working time
Equality and diversity workplace policy Equality and diversity
Health and safety policy Health and safety
Pay policy Staff pay
Bullying and harassment policy Bullying and harassment
Rewards, benefits and expenses policy Expenses and benefits
Discipline/dismissal and grievance policy Dismissing employees
Redundancy policy Redundancy, restructures and change
Measures to improve performance or manage change

Managing staff performance

Change management

Bribery policy Anti-bribery policies
Policies on the use of company facilities, eg email, internet and phone use Other key HR policies and templates
Training and development policy Performance management and staff training templates
Policy of right of search/social media usage Policies to help you protect your assets
Patents and copyrights policy Patents, trade marks, copyright and design
Confidential information policy General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Policies on whistleblowing/protected disclosures Policies to help you protect your assets
Smoking, drugs and alcohol policies Workplace policies on smoking, drugs and alcohol
Sickness absence policy Absence and sickness policies: what to include

To access employment policy templates that you can download, tailor and use for your business, see HR documents and templates.

Employment policies: legal requirements

Note that it is a legal requirement to set out your health and safety policy in writing if you have five or more employees. It is also a legal requirement to set out your disciplinary rules and discipline and grievance procedures in writing.

If - following an assessment - there is a risk that someone performing services for your business might carry out acts of bribery, you will need to have a procedure in place to prevent such acts. Read more on anti-bribery policies.

Communicating your employment policies

A workplace policy can be part of your employee/company handbook or you could set it out in a separate document. However, for your discipline and grievance policies, you must either set them out in a written statement of main terms and conditions of employment or refer in a written statement to a place where the employee can read them, eg the company intranet.

You should make staff aware that your employment policies exist, particularly during the induction process - see induction programme: what to include, and make sure workers can easily access them if necessary, eg by having them pinned up on a noticeboard or put on the company intranet.

Employment policies: contractual status 

Workplace policies generally aren't contractually binding unless they expressly state otherwise.

However, terms of some employment policies could be seen as contractually binding through custom and practice, ie where workers follow certain working practices or receive certain benefits over a significant period of time and ultimately it will be up to an Industrial Tribunal to decide on the contractual nature of policies.