Policies and Procedures – Do I need them and if so which ones

Managing employees: The HR essentials all employers and managers need to know!

Video Two  – Policies and Procedures – Do I need them and if so which ones


Kath: Good morning everyone, Kath here from Compass Business Support, and welcome to our second video in our series of managing employees. HR essentials, what your employees need to know. Welcome again, Paulette. Thank you for joining me.

Paulette: Thank you for having me on again.

Paulette’s from Fresh HR Insights, and we are going to be talking today about policies and procedures. What you need, and what you need to put into place for your new team members. You’ll remember last month in our video, we talked all about when you need to bring an employee on board. So, this is the next part in the process, and what policies and procedures you need to put in place for those new employees.

This is something that’s very close to my heart. As you know, I love systems and procedures, so Paulette’s going to give us a lot of information on what we need to do specifically for employees. Are you ready to get started?

I’m certainly ready to get started.


Certainly, love these kinds of topics and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’re actually able to share this together. What Kath said is absolutely right, as well. Having the systems in a workplace, not just around the HR. Also, what Kath does as well, around your business running right and having operations processes in place and everything, as well, is just as important as having HR processes.

Absolutely. Okay, let’s get started. So, we’ve got some great questions. The first one is why do I need them? Why do I need policies and procedures for my new employees?

Well, you’d like them to do what you want them to do. You need to make your expectations clear. So, someone walks into work … “Let’s go. Well there’s your job.” … Now, if they don’t do it right, or they don’t have their break when they’re meant to, or they don’t go home they’re meant to, or they take leave and they don’t tell you, well it’s your own fault if you haven’t sat down and placed, “What am I supposed to do there?” So even the policies and procedures in place, it’s basically … I call it the Bible of the way we do things around here. So, we have that code of conduct which is one of the really important ones to have in place. This is the way we treat each other. This is what we don’t do. This is what we do do, and really setting it out clear as well.

It’s really outlining all the expectations for that new employee-

It is!

… so, they know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Pretty much, yes. When you pick up a new car … I will admit that I don’t do it all the time … but when you pick up a new car, you would pull out the menu, wouldn’t you?

You should.

You should pull out the menu, and then you’d actually know what works. If something goes wrong, what do you go back to? You go back to the menu for the car, don’t you?

That’s right.

So, the handbook’s no different. If something’s going wrong or not quite working, it’s something for you to go back to and go “Well, what do we need to do? How do I need to manage this?” That’s exactly what an employee handbook’s like, same as a car menu.

Excellent. That’s great. Okay, so thank you. So, the next question. What are the benefits to me and my business in having them?

Pretty much similar to what we’ve just gone through. The benefits, so if something does go wrong, you’ve got a guidance to go back to. Also, say for example, your employee wants to take leave. Now, in a lot of the main policies I put in place is- do not book leave until it’s been authorized. So, don’t book your travel or you might have to cancel it. Really setting it out clearly. Then they know that, “Okay this is the process I need to follow. I need to fill in the leave form. I need to put it in. I can’t book my travel first until I’ve actually got the authorization back.” So, it makes that expectation very clear. Another one is the absence policy, if you have that in place as well. If someone’s going to be sick who do, they call? How far in advance from their shift do they need to call? What happens if they are sick on a Monday or a Friday, or before or after a period of leave?

Ah, good point. Quite often that can happen, and how do you address that? If you’ve got that all in your employee handbook, then-

Give setting it out. And if someone doesn’t do that, because it’s actually part of your policies and procedures, and they will have signed and acknowledged that they agree to the policies and procedures and understand them, you have a mechanism then to take managerial action such as disciplinary. So, you can call someone to a meeting and say, “Hey look, you haven’t followed our procedure. You are aware of it. You signed it on this date. We are looking at taking formal action against you.” Now, I’m not going to go into disciplinary because there’s a whole process around that, and I don’t want to confuse you … but by having the policies in place, then you have got a mechanism there to be able to follow a disciplinary process, and a fair disciplinary process.

Oh absolutely, and because it’s all outlined for you then, it’s going to be the same process for all employees. Yes, it is. So everyone’s going to know the expectations.

Everyone’s treated fairly and consistent. That’s really important, so there’s no discrimination, no harassment, no accusations or bullying, or treating people different to others because of maybe a particular characteristic.

Fair enough. Okay, can you just explain … The last thing I’ve got to ask is, what’s included in an employee handbook?

All the expectations. Excuse me for looking to the side here. I’ve got the list down. What we would recommend in a handbook and, like last month, I have got a fact sheet all done up for you and it will be free, so we’ll pop a link as well to the fact sheet. So, what we’ve got … We’ve got the code of conduct, got confidential information as well. Drugs and alcohol policy. That’s important.

That’s a massive one. Yeah, absolutely. You know, personally being in the construction industry, that’s been quite a challenge in the industry, particularly when we’ve had employees working away. There’s been some challenges around that, so that’s a really important one to document that straight up.

Yeah, and setting it out in there as well as watch … If an employee shows these signs of, so it sets out some of the signs. That [inaudible 00:05:26], but sets out the signs, and then what the employer will do if that happens. They might direct them to go home. Obviously if they’re intoxication, it you won’t be by driving their own car. So, there’s a couple of sets around that … but, you know, the directions that you’ll need to make and what the consequences are. It’s really important to make sure you know the consequences. Internet and e-mail use, and social media. Another biggie right there.

Another big one. Yes, absolutely.

So, putting that in place before. I’ve had a past client who dismissed someone when they turned up at work, because they had written something on social media that wasn’t particularly polite. However, they had no policy in place. Now, that was unfair dismissal. They didn’t follow a process and they ended up having to pay about four and a half grands, because the employee did it. She makes a claim, and they didn’t have a policy, that wasn’t clear what the expectations were and they didn’t follow a procedure. Rightly so, they got fined for that. We’ve got privacy policy as well. That’s to do with giving out your records of your staff, which is really important because we have the privacy act. So, you need to make that clear as well . Workplace bullying. That’s another big one. The legislation changes with workplace bullying … An employee does not have to go through the company processes. They can actually go straight to Fair Work Commission now,-

Wow. That’s really good to know. Okay.

and lodge a claim. That’s really important. And obviously health and safety as well.

Massive one.



If you’ve got staff, the first thing you need to do is make sure, first of all, that you’ve got your Worker’s Compensation Insurance. One stop.

That’s right.

The other one is to make sure that you aren’t cheap protecting the them in their environment. Providing a safe work environment. I was talking to a Worker’s Health and Safety expert the other day, and there is actually fines to 50 to 100 thousand, they can be, for breach in not providing a safe workplace for someone. Can you afford that?

Yeah. That’s massive consideration, particularly for the small businesses. If you’re put into that position and you don’t have the right policies and procedures in place, that’s a massive risk to your business.

So, you do. You just need to have a lot of things and the policy’s not going to cover every eventuality, and it will depend on every different business and what they’re actually operating. If you’re operating in a construction business like with you, Kath, then I would recommend you have a full work place health and safety policies, procedures, they whole handbook regarding just that.

Yeah, and for anyone in that construction space, if you wanted to get in touch with me, I can certainly point you in the right direction and help you to put your health and safety policies in place, for you.

Yes. Those are vitally important.


This covers all of the overview, but you need to go more in depth, depending on what industry you are in, as well.

Yeah. Correct. Okay. I had a couple of other things I just wanted to talk to you about, too. Why do all areas of your business need to be systematized, not just HR? It’s a little bit like what Paulette had just said. It’s important that there is a procedure to follow so your employees know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It’s also really important that if you’re away from the business, your business can still operate in a way without you being in. It can still function without you. You are still going to make a profit. Your employees are going to be able to manage that business without you there. So, it’s really important to not just have systems and procedures for HR, but for all areas of your business.

Definitely. Definitely. I know I find that being a business owner as well, having the systems in place make my life a lot easier, so I can work all my business, not in my business all the time. I think, for all of us small business owners, we don’t go in there to work 23 hours a day and sleep for one hour. We go in there and have a life. It’s a lifestyle choice- … for the work, life balance. That’s why we want to run small businesses, so it’s certainly … getting the systems in place is a way to be able to achieve that.

Yeah. That’s right. It’s also really important to make sure you’ve got them in place before you take any employees on board, I think. Okay. Don’t put them in place after you’ve got a team. It’s much more proactive to actually put them in place before you have a team. Again, if you’re needing help with writing any policies and procedures, let me know. That’s my specialty!

That’s what we went through last week, as well … about bringing a new employee on board and making sure that’s all-in place as well, so you’re not actually paying someone to do something with them sitting there. You’re actually paying them to be productive.

You’ve outlined it all before they go. When you’ve actually taken a new employee on board, I think the other important thing to remember is that it’s a great time to … when you’re inducting them, when you’re taking them on board that first maybe, week or so, when you’re doing all the inductions, that’s when you go through all the policies and procedures so they know, up front, before they’ve actually started-

Yeah, you have to do that straight away. There’s no point in having your policies and procedures, or your employee handbook and having them in the bottom drawer. Because you can never rely on them. Your staff need to be given them. They need to read them, and they also need to acknowledge them. Should circumstances change within your business, then you actually need to be updating them, as well.

Absolutely. That’s a really important thing … making sure they’re all up to date, because as your business grows and changes, those policies and procedures are going to need to grow and change as well.

And we’ve got legislation changing. You’ve got the domestic violence; the five days leave for domestic violence that’s coming through. That just quibbling over the wording at the moment of it, but once that policy comes in, as a workplace, you need to actually get it out into your handbooks as well. So there’ll be some updating going on shortly with the handbooks.

Yeah, and how we said we can let everyone know as soon as those changes are in place, as well. Okay. And don’t forget to click on the link to make sure that you’ll know when the next video is coming up.

We look forward to seeing you next month and thanks for joining us!


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