Policies and procedures are usually included in the staff handbook. They help to fulfil the employer’s obligation to ensure that all employees know what is expected of them.
Some policies and procedures are required by law, including:
- Health and safety (if you have 5 or more employees)
- Whistleblowing (in some instances)
There are also strong legal reasons to have policies on anti-bribery, equal opportunities including anti-bullying and harassment and data protection. These are important as employers are vicariously responsible for the actions of their workforce. Being able to demonstrate that you have communicated what is expected of them, will help prevent inappropriate behaviour and, in the worst case scenario, help defend a grievance or employment claim.
Data protection related policies in respect of employees, workers, contractors and job applicants are needed to communicate how their data is collected and processed, how it is stored and how long it is kept for. Documents required include a privacy notice, data retention policy and a candidate privacy notice.
Apart from communicating what is expected from the workforce, the employee handbook can be used to explain statutory rights such as the right to request flexible working, time off to care for a dependent or what happens when there is a family change such as a birth or adoption or a family member becomes ill or disabled and needs to be cared for.
In addition to the health and safety policy it is beneficial to have written policies on how sickness absence is handled and how the business looks after the mental wellbeing of it’s workforce. They will also need to know how annual leave is handled.