The need for workplace policies in small businesses are required just as much as they are in any large-scale corporation. Workplace policies are basic insurance to reduce liability risk regarding employment decisions. For small businesses, this is an essential but often overlooked process, as a potential situation can arise that can be both costly and damaging.
Workplace policies and procedures for small business establish rules of conduct within a company, setting up and defining responsibilities of both employees and employers. These policies protect the rights of workers as well as the business interests of the employer. Even small businesses can benefit from having well thought out and prepared workplace policies.
What framework do small businesses operate under?
The basis of small business workplace policies begins with a summary of the company’s business ethics, code of conduct and a workplace health and safety policy. Other policies to consider include ones that cover subjects for the employer-employee relationship regarding:
- Grievance handling policy;
- Social media policy;
- Drug and alcohol policy; and
- Other procedures regarding key points such as work hours, access and use company equipment and property and leave requests.
What laws and compliance do they follow?
It is essential for small businesses to research applicable legislation to ensure their workplace policies are compliant. In Australia, workers are entitled to basic rights and protections at work. In the national workplace relations system, the National Employment Standards apply. Employees are also likely to be covered by an applicable modern award which can specify requirements for wages, penalty rates and overtime.
Who should implement workplace policies/procedures?
Small businesses often do not have dedicated human resource departments, which can make developing workplace policies more difficult. If the directors or partners of the small business do not have any experience drafting workplace policies, they can outsource the services of an employment lawyer or HR consultant. This will ensure the policies are effectively written. In some cases, businesses may also involve those that are managing and supervising to contribute to policy development, as they may provide tangible opinions as to what does and what does not work.
What is the best way to communicate workplace policies?
Conducting training and toolbox talks with all your employees is essential in the process of implementing and communicating workplace policies. Small businesses should consider the seriousness of each employee fully understanding the policies and procedures outlined. Distributing a handbook or simple memos may not be the most effective medium of communication as it is impersonal and does not allow for the opportunity for employees to ask questions, give feedback or clarify aspects of the workplace policies. Short and casual meetings are suitable and provide a comfortable environment where employees can ask questions and give feedback.
If you need guidance or assistance to draft workplace policies for your business, get in touch with the expert team at Preston HR.