The importance of HR Policies, HR Procedures and Employment Contracts

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Why are HR Policies and HR Procedures important?

Employers often ask why they need HR Procedures in place and what is the importance of HR policies.

In response, and based on our experience, here are just some of the reasons why we believe it is crucial to ensure that you have well written HR Policies and HR Procedures in place:

  • To provide clarity to employees and managers around important day-to-day processes, standards and ways of working in your business.
  • To ensure compliance with legislation and regulatory requirements.
  • To provide managers with guidance to inform their decision-making.
  • To assist with the consistent application of decisions and consequences.

And most importantly, to mitigate an Employer’s risk when faced with employees who fail to adhere to the workplace standards, rules and practices. In such an unfortunate case, the onus is on the Employer to prove that there was in fact a rule, that it could have been reasonably expected of the employee to be aware of said rule, that the employee was in contravention of the rule and that the rule was valid and reasonable. One of the most effective ways to prove the above, and most difficult to challenge, is if you have a lawful policy and procedure in place acknowledged by your employees.

 

How do we ensure that our policies and procedures are effectively communicated, read and implemented in our business?

Rolling out policies in a business can be overwhelming for both employees and managers alike; and ultimately Employers want employees to understand and read the policies, as opposed to it merely being an administrative “tick box” exercise. We would, therefore, recommend that a considered approach is followed suited to your business and team. Here are the broad steps that we would recommend as part of your implementation plan:

Step 1: Create a policy framework stipulating who is responsible for managing the policy implementation process, who signs off on policies, how they are distributed, how they are stored, and how often they are reviewed.

Step 2: Identify which policies you require and ensure that you procure well written, legally compliant policies.

Step 3: Communicate to your team that you have initiated this project; explain to them what it means, what inputs you will require and what impact it will have on them. It is advisable to run this process as a small change management process, where communication is key. This is also where Companies should spend time on ensuring that the policy process aligns with their Company culture, both in implementation and in the way in which they are written.

Step 4: Conduct induction sessions with staff in a phased approach to introduce them to the policies and procedures’ content, and facilitate a Q&A session to address any questions or concerns.

Step 5: Obtain acknowledgement from employees that they have read and understood the policies and procedures.

 

What HR Policies and Procedures do I need?

This would be informed by the nature of your business and the type of HR challenges that you are typically faced with. In addition, there are some policies and procedures required by law.

From a risk mitigating and compliance perspective, some of the policies we recommend you put in place first relate to leave, discipline, grievances, and harassment. With POPIA having come into effect from 1 July 2021, an Employee Privacy policy is also critical from an employment perspective. Similarly, we advise that Employers prioritise their Social Media and Acceptable use of IT Infrastructure policies, as it is vitally important that employees are aware of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in this regard.

Since COVID-19 became a reality, it has also become advisable to have a Remote Working policy in place, an updated Sick Leave policy specifically addressing self-isolation requirements, as well as an updated Disciplinary Code to allow for transgressions pertaining to COVID-19, such as failure to follow COVID-19 safety regulations, etc. Recently, it has also become necessary to consider implementing a Vaccination policy.

 

Where does POPIA fit in?

In order to ensure compliance with POPIA, we advise Employers to review and update their HR policies, as well as their Employment Contracts.

One of the most important policies/notices to implement is your Employee Privacy Policy (also referred to as an “Employee Privacy Notice”). POPIA requires that you must inform employees that you are collecting their information and what you use it for (amongst other things). This is done by a privacy notice which you provide to them when you collect their information. The Employee Privacy Notice in short informs employees what personal information is collected, how and why it is collected, how the Company will use their personal information, how it is protected, for how long the Company will keep it, and how employees can access their personal information.

 

Let’s talk about Employment Contracts…

Every day we see how the absence of proper employment contracts place Employers at risk. Over and above the obvious such as working hours and overtime, Employers often neglect to include clauses pertaining to conflict of interest, monitoring of communication, confidentiality, POPI, agreement to specific deductions, clarity around retirement age, guarantees by the employee against misrepresentation, etc. The absence of such clauses place Employers at risk in the event of a dispute as their practices are not supported by the necessary agreements in writing.

 

Where can businesses obtain high quality, best practice HR Policies, HR Procedures and Employment Contracts?

EasyHR has the solution for you!

Complied by reputable HR and Labour Specialists with more than 25 years related experience, our business offers best practice Employment Contract templates, HR Policies, HR Procedures and HR Supporting Documents, available to buy online at the click of a button.

Invest in this cost-effective HR solution, which will save your business time and give you peace of mind, knowing that the documents are comprehensive, practical, and compliant with relevant South African labour legislation.

You can either purchase any of our wide variety of HR documents individually online or invest in various HR packs – depending on the size and requirements of your business.

 

Can I just use generic templates?

It is a start, but we would recommend that you customise your templates to the needs of your specific business. We can gladly assist in this process.

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