Human resources policies are the formal guidelines and rules that a business puts in place with regards to the hiring, training, assessment, and rewarding of the organization’s employees.
Such policies can serve to prevent many disputes and misunderstandings between the employer and the employees. A well-drafted human resources policy will inform employees of their rights and duties in the workplace.
Human resources (HR) policies are generally contained in the company’s employee handbook which is given to all employees when they begin working with the organization. Sometimes the human resources policy may actually form a part of the employment contract between the company and the employee. Therefore, if a workplace dispute is litigated in court, it is usually assumed that the employee has consented to the company’s human resources policy
What Is Contained in a Human Resource Policy?
A well-drafted human resources policy should address all the basic interactions between employers and employees, as well those that occur between employees. In addition, the policy should be able to anticipate any possible disputes or legal claims that might arise in connection with workplace issues.
Some issues that the HR policy should contain are:
- Use and ownership of company resources and products
- Harassment, discrimination, and other workplace disputes
- Wages, benefits, overtime pay, and vacation terms
- Reimbursements for business expenses (such as travel and lodging)
- Telecommuting policies
- Retirement and pension plans
- Substance abuse and drug testing
- Dress codes
- Mail, shipping, and fax policies
- Recreational activities
- Promotion policies
- Insurance/medical/dental policies
- Mechanisms for reporting/resolving disputes
The human resources policy should therefore be very broad so that it encompasses all of the major employment concerns. It should also be tailored to include those provisions that may be unique to the nature of the business involved. For example, if the company involves a shipping business, the policy should emphasize concerns related to transportation and delivery.
It is important that human resources policies be drafted in a way that is clear and easy for employees to understand. Therefore it may be necessary to hire a lawyer to draft the policy according to local business law standards.
What Are the Advantages of Having a Human Resources Policy in place?
The main advantage of implementing a human resource policy is that it can help prevent costly litigation fees in the future. A human resource policy should create avenues for employees to report any misconduct to superiors. If the company is able to resolve the dispute internally, it could save costs on lawsuits and may also spare the loss of employees.
Unfortunately, many business owners (especially small businesses) may feel that creating a human resources policy is a waste of time and resources. However, a formal policy may ultimately serve to reduce costs in the long run. It may also actually help the business operate more efficiently, especially when the employees integrate the policy standards into their work conduct.
Other benefits of a human resources policy include increased communication in the workplace, reduced management expenses, and a more cooperative work environment.
Should I contact a Lawyer for Human Resources Policies?
For the protection of your business and your employees, it is important that you have a comprehensive human resources policy in place. While no one else may know the ins and outs of your business like you do, you may not fully understand the various requirements of the law.
Therefore, you may wish to work in conjunction with an employment lawyer when creating a human resources policy. Your attorney can help you create a policy that caters to the needs of your company and clearly defines the requirements of the law. Also, an attorney can be of assistance if your company is facing any internal or external legal claims.