Guide

Set up employment policies for your business

Writing and communicating staff policies

When writing staff policies the main steps are:

  • Preparing - collecting information (anonymous staff views can be sought via a survey or series of surveys), opinions and examining the options. Policies are more likely to be accepted if staff are involved in drawing them up. Involve unions, especially if you have collective agreements that specify they should be consulted, or existing elected employee representatives. Alternatively, set up a joint working group.
  • Developing - policies should suit the specific needs of the business.
  • Implementing - inform staff and provide training.
  • Reviewing - this is to check that the policy is being used and is not damaging the business.

Check that your workplace policies are not unlawfully discriminatory, eg in relation to pay or dress/appearance.

If in doubt, or if you require additional help with drawing up your employment documentation, the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) host employment documentation workshops.

How should policies be communicated to staff?

You could inform your staff on workplace policies by:

  • displaying them on noticeboards where staff can easily read them
  • adding details of them to the company network or intranet
  • communicating in presentations
  • including in a staff handbook
  • including in a collective agreement with a union
  • emailing details of your policies to staff
  • sending as a written letter to staff

Making changes to workplace policies

If you wish to make a change to a policy, you will need the employee to agree to the changes, unless their contract allows you to make such variations without such agreement (typically terms in relation to working hours, place of work and duties).

If you fail to get employees' agreement, they may be entitled to sue for breach of contract, or resign and claim constructive dismissal. Ultimately it will be up to an Industrial Tribunal to decide on the contractual nature of policies.

Introducing new workplace policies

If you are planning to introduce a new policy in your workplace, you should consider the following:

  • What is the purpose of the policy?
  • Have you consulted with managers, workers and their representatives?
  • Has someone been given overall responsibility for the policy?
  • How are you going to communicate the policy to all workers?
  • Have you given workers enough notice about the new policy?
  • Have you thought through the potential cost of the policy?
  • Does the policy change anyone's employment contract?
  • How are you going to monitor and maintain the policy?