The importance of documented employment policies and procedures

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If you employ staff in your business, it is advisable to have documented policies and procedures in place.

Policies and procedures provide employees with a clear understanding as to what you expect from them and what they should expect from you.  Used together with the employment agreement, they are a valuable reference tool in situations where issues arise with an employee’s conduct or behaviour. Having policies in place and referring to them will assist you in addressing issues and dealing with similar issues consistently rather than making rules up as you go along.

In addition, they can support the need to take disciplinary action and the severity of the sanction given.  With this in mind, policies and procedures can also be useful in defending any challenge an employee makes by way of personal grievance.

Another advantage of having policies in place is that it will assist you in fulfilling your legal obligations and responsibilities under employment related legislation. Furthermore, having a set of rules that are separate from an employee’s employment agreement will give you flexibility to change your policies and procedures from time to time without needing to gain the employee’s agreement.

The types of policies and procedures a business will have in place will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of the business, the industry it operates in and the type of work performed by employees. Examples of policies include: health and safety, use of internet, tools of trade (where either mobile phones, laptops, equipment is provided to employees), business expenses, confidential information and a code of conduct or house rules that defines misconduct and serious misconduct.

Something I have drafted for several employer clients recently is a motor vehicle policy.  The reason for this type of policy is to inform employees (who drive company vehicles and/or drive a vehicle as part of their job) of their responsibilities and to ensure they demonstrate safe and other good road safety habits.

The advantage of having a motor vehicle policy in place is that it is not possible to include all policies and procedures relating to the use of the vehicle in the employment agreement, for example what an employee should do if they are involved in an accident and what conduct would be considered misconduct and or serious misconduct in relation to the use of a vehicle.

Furthermore, a motor vehicle policy can assist an employer in meeting its health and safety obligation to ensure the safety of employees who drive either a company vehicle or drive a vehicle as part of their job.  Under Section 6 of the Health and Safety Employment Act 1992, employers are responsible for the safety of employees whilst at work.  The definition of place of work includes vehicles.

In accordance with our obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, we cannot provide legal advice unless you have become a client of Smith and Partners and have received our Terms & Conditions of Engagement and Info for Clients. 

If you would like advice on any employment law related matters, please contact Suzanne Sumner, Personal Assistant to employment law expert, Carolyn Ranson to find out how you can become a client of Smith and Partners and to set up an appointment to discuss your employment matter with Carolyn. 

Suzanne Sumner

Ph: 09 837 6840

Email: Suzanne.sumner@smithpartners.co.nz

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