Top 7 HR Policies Every Company Must Have (with Templates)

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Date published: 11 Feb 2021
by DocPro Legal

HR policies are something that are mutually beneficial to both employers and employees. They are beneficial to the employer as they allow the employer to clearly communicate their expectations of their employees. They are also beneficial to employees, as they get a clear idea of how to succeed at the company.

 

Despite these obvious benefits of HR policies, for most start-ups and SMEs, establishing clear HR policies is not a priority. Most start-ups and SMEs are satisfied with laying down rules for employees verbally and dealing with human resources related issues in an ad-hoc manner as and when they arise.

 

If you manage a start-up or SME these are the top 7 HR policies that every company should have.

 

What are HR Policies?

 

HR policies are a set of guidelines that outline an employer’ expectations of an employee. HR policies also outline the consequences an employee may face for not meeting these expectations.

 

Top 7 HR Policies every company should have:

 

1) Health and Safety Policy

 

A health and safety policy outlines the procedure to be followed, employee obligations to be fulfilled and conditions to be maintained to ensure employees have a safe working environment.

 

It is extremely important to keep a safe working environment. Unsafe work environments can lead to more employees taking sick leave, high staff turnover and lower productivity. All these are costly to a company.   

 

A health and safety policy will outline details, such as what to do if there is a fire, and how to report any accidents or work-related injuries. They also specify if any employee must wear any safety equipment and protective gear and include details of any health and safety training given to employees.  

 

DocPro has a free health and safety policy template which you can use for your company. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/doc1712/health-and-safety-policy-employer-employee

 

 

2) Leave Policy:

 

A leave policy is a guideline which helps an employer clearly communicate to an employee what their entitlement to leave is and the criteria and procedure for availing leave.

 

An employee may need time off for a multitude of reasons, from needing it to deal with a health emergency or just for time off to rest and get away from work. Therefore, a leave policy should cover the criteria and procedure for availing different types of leave. A good leave policy should cover the following types of leave:

  • Sick Leave – this is time taken off due to illness

  • Annual Leave – this is time taken of for rest, and vacations.

  • Bereavement Leave – this is time taken off to attend the funeral of a family member

  • Maternity/Paternity Leave – this is time taken off usually right before and/or after the birth of a child

  • Unpaid Leave – this is time taken off for personal reasons where the employee forgoes any pay otherwise due during this period.

  • Parental Leave – this is time taken off to fulfil parental obligations, such as caring for a sick child.

  • Study Leave – this is time taken off to pursue a course/qualification

  • Sabbatical Leave – this is time taken off to pursue personal, non-work-related interests

  • Casual Leave – this is paid time off for personal reasons

 

When writing these leave policies, it is important to consider the laws and regulations applicable in your jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions have laws and regulations, which stipulate that employers must grant an employee a minimum number of days of a particular type of leave.

 

It is clear that writing a leave policy or leave policies can be difficult. DocPro has a free leave policy template, suitable for common law jurisdictions, which you can use for your company. Our template covers all the different types of leave stated above. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/doc1811/leave-policy-comprehensive-general-company-policy

 

 

3) Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy

 

An anti-harassment and bullying policy proscribes any form of bullying, discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, in the workplace. To do this, this policy will often outline what types of behaviours are permissible and appropriate and which types of behaviours are not permissible and inappropriate.

 

Anti-harassment and bullying policies are especially important, firstly, because they can help employers avoid liability. Employers can actually be held legally liable for any harassment occurring within their workplaces. In order to avoid such liability, employers need to show that they have taken adequate steps to stop such harassment from occurring. The most common way to do this is to create an anti-harassment policy, which clearly proscribes any form of harassment and bullying.

 

They are also important to ensure that employees have a safe workplace whereby employees treat each other with respect and dignity.

 

Anti-harassment and bullying policies frequently include a section proscribing sexual harassment. In light of social movements, such as the MeToo movement, people and companies have become aware of the severity of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. By creating an anti-harassment and bullying policy, companies can clearly put across their stance on sexual harassment to employees, and clearly communicate what behaviour is unacceptable as sexual harassment.

 

Other items covered by an anti-harassment and bullying policy include:

  • What constitutes harassment and bullying

  • Examples of behaviour which would constitute harassment and bullying

  • How any breach of the policy would be dealt with

 

DocPro has two free anti-harassment and bullying policy which you can use for your company. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/document-form-select/Anti-Harassment%20and%20Bullying%20Policy

 

 

4) Work from Home Policy/Telecommuting Policy

 

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of offices worldwide and has led to many companies making arrangements for remote working. Despite this transition to remote working, many employers have been left confused as to how to administer this regime of remote working, and how to communicate their expectations of their employees whilst working remotely. Both these issues can be resolved by using a work from home policy. 

 

A good work from home policy should cover a few key things:

 

(A) Who is eligible to apply for work from home?

 

Not all employees can fulfil their duties and responsibilities from home. This might be because they do not have access to the machinery or resources to properly execute their tasks.

 

(B) How to apply for work from home?

 

A work from home policy should clearly outline how an employee can request work from home. It should also state under what circumstances or for what reasons they can request work from home – e.g., parenting, pandemic situations, natural disasters etc.

 

(C) What are the expectations regarding appropriate behaviour and standards when working from home?

 

When working from home, the boundaries between work and home get blurred. With this in mind, employers should clearly outline in a work from home policy, what exactly they expect of their employees when remote working.

 

(D) What are the employees’ roles and responsibilities under a work from home arrangement?

 

A work from home policy should specify whether any particular employees have any additional responsibilities or will have a change in responsibilities due to remote working.

 

(E) How often or long can a person work remotely?

 

How long and often a particular individual can work remotely within a specified period of time should also be made clear.

 

Companies should also reserve the right as a company to end remote working arrangements at any time.

 

DocPro has a free remote working policy template which you can use for your company. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/doc1688/work-from-home-policy-telecommuting-policy-remote-work-policy

 

4) Equal Opportunities Policy

 

An equal opportunities policy are a set of guidelines which demand that all persons, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or any other specified characteristic, are treated equally.

 

This is an extremely important policy today considering that achieving workplace equality has become a priority for companies around the world and has only become more important in light of the protests worldwide against systemic racism – such as the Black Lives Matter movement.


An equal opportunities policy usually states the opportunities for which people should be treated equally. Commonly included opportunities include wages, reimbursements, remuneration packages, leave, promotion, and other developmental opportunities.

 

It should also specify the types of behaviour – such as discrimination and harassment - that may lead to unequal treatment of particular persons.

 

DocPro has a free equal opportunities policy template which you can use for your company. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/doc1669/equal-opportunities-policy-anti-harassment-and-non-discrimination

 

 

6) Social Media Policy

 

Companies are increasingly wary about their online image and how they are being represented online by their employees.

 

Employees often list their employment with a company on their social media profiles. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it does have the effect that anything they say or do on their social media profiles, will reflect on the company. To mitigate this risk, companies are increasingly feeling the need to monitor and regulate employees’ behaviour on social media platforms. One of the best ways to do this is by implementing a social media policy.

 

A social media policy lays down rules that employees must follow when using social media. Usually, these rules laid down apply to both situations where an employee is posting about personal matters on their social media profiles, and when they are posting about the company on their profiles.  

 

A social media policy also includes rules on:

  • Using the company brands

  • Trade secrets and confidential information

  • Photos and videos taken in the workplace

 

A social media policy should also specify a procedure to report any breach of the policy and highlight any possible consequences if a person is found in breach of the policy.

 

DocPro has a free social media policy template which you can use for your company. You can find it at the following web address: https://docpro.com/doc1529/social-media-policy-employee

 

7) Disciplinary Policy

 

A disciplinary policy is a document which records the various stages and steps involved if an employee is to be disciplined by the company for any reason.

 

A disciplinary policy should outline the various stages involved as part of the procedure. Usually, the first stage as part of a disciplinary procedure is a verbal warning given to an employee by the employer. The final stage is the dismissal of the employee. Each of these stages, and what an employee can expect as part of each stage, should be explained in depth.

 

When writing a disciplinary policy, it is important that you research whether there are particular requirements which will dictate the content of your policy. For instance, in England & Wales, the ACAS Code of Practice is authoritative and should be complied with.

 

You can find DocPro’s template disciplinary procedure here: https://docpro.com/doc1882/disciplinary-policy-employer-employee

 

 

Why is it important to have HR Policies?

 

HR policies are important to any start-up or SME for many reasons. Some of the reasons that HR policies are important are because they help:

 

1) Ensure that all employees are treated fairly and equally

 

All HR policies laid down by an employer will help ensure all employees are treated fairly. An employer, by formally laying down a policy is laying down a framework based on which they will make future decisions.

 

2) Set clear expectations of employees

 

One of the predominant purposes of setting down HR policies is to set clear expectations for employees. HR policies allow the employer to make clear the standards and behaviours that will be expected and accepted in the workplace. Clear expectations also help employees - they will have a clear idea of what they must do to succeed in the organisation and their career.

 

3) Ensure a safe and healthy work environment

 

Some policies are intended to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees. This is, for instance, clearly the purpose of the Health and Safety Policy.

 

4) Creating an environment whereby people feel comfortable and safe

 

Some policies are intended to create an environment whereby people feel comfortable and safe. This is, for instance, clearly the purpose of the equal opportunities policy and anti-harassment policy as well.

 

Please note that this is a general summary of the position under common law and does not constitute legal advice. As the laws of each jurisdiction may be different, you may wish to consult your lawyer.

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DocPro Legal

DocPro Legal is a team of legal professionals with a passion for making quality documents and legal contract templates widely available to the public through cutting edge technology. Our lawyers are qualified in numerous common law jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. We have experience in major law firms and international banks with expertise in business, commercial, finance, banking, litigation, family, succession and company laws.

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