Employment Law: Workplace Policies

Policies are a valuable tool for helping employers to properly and efficiently regulate the company’s operations and relationships within the workplace.

 

It is a good practice for employers to make compliance with all company Policies an express term of the employment in all offer letters and written contracts of employment.

 

It is essential that workplace policies comply with all applicable legislation and government regulation. Compliance can be assured by keeping apprised of changes to various statutes and regulations affecting the workplace and updating company policies accordingly.

 

An effective Policy:

  • is a written document that clearly defines the matters addressed in the policy;
  • states clearly who is bound by the policy and what is expected of those persons;
  • provides clear, practical and fair mechanisms/procedures for achieving the policy’s goals;
  • states clearly the consequences for breaching the policy;
  • is made known to all persons who are to be bound by the policy, and is supported and reinforced through regular education and training of those persons;
  • is consistently implemented and enforced vis-à-vis all persons bound by the policy, regardless of their level within the organization;
  • is regularly reviewed and assessed with a view to improving the policy; and
  • complies with all applicable statutes and government regulation.

 

Whether a given policy is enforceable is often the subject of disagreement between employers and their employees, particularly when the employment relationship comes to an end. The key to answering that question is to assess the degree to which the above criteria are met.

 

Some of the more common reasons for a policy being found not to be unenforceable include: that the policy does not comply with current legislation; that the employee expected to be bound by the policy has not been made aware of it; and that the policy has not been consistently implemented and enforced.

 

Examples of commonly used policies include:

  • respectful workplace
  • code of conduct
  • conflict of interest
  • email, internet and computer use
  • drug and alcohol testing
  • incentive compensation
  • maternity and parental leave
  • performance management

 

Our employment lawyers can draft new policies for employers or update old policies.

 

We can also advise both employers and employees on questions relating to compliance with existing policies.