The Importance of Workplace Policies

By Heather Collins

6 June 2023

Polices play a vital role in ensuring that Employers and Employees meet their obligations to each other. Policies also provide useful guidance on what is and is not acceptable in the workplace, and how breaches are dealt with.

It is worthwhile taking the time to consider whether the current policies in place for your business are adequate, and whether any additional policies are required.

We have outlined below some of the key employment policies which can be useful tools when running a business.

Health and Safety Policy

Health and Safety obligations of Employers have become increasingly onerous over the years. Having a well drafted Health and Safety policy tailored to your business can be an important part of meeting health and safety obligations.

A Health and Safety Policy often dovetails with other policies such as Drug and Alcohol Policies or Safe Driving Policies (discussed below).

Drug and Alcohol Policy

If Drug and Alcohol testing takes place at your business we recommend having a detailed Drug and Alcohol policy in place.

Ideally a Drug and Alcohol Policy should set out:

  • when an Employee is required to take a test (such as where there is reasonable cause, post-incident, and random testing)

  • what positions or areas at the worksite are safety sensitive (for the purposes of random drug testing)

  • how tests are performed

  • what is being tested for

  • what happens if an Employee refuses to take a test or tries to cheat on a test

  • What happens if an Employee receives a failed result (tests positive for drugs or alcohol).

Safe Driving Policy

If your Employees drive work vehicles as part of their employment then a Safe Driving Policy can ensure that they understand what their obligations are when using the vehicles and what to do if they are involved in an accident.

Harassment and Bullying Policy

Preventing harassment and bullying in the workplace, and dealing with this issue correctly if it arises, is an important obligation for all Employers. A Harassment and bullying policy can set out clearly to staff:

  • what constitutes harassment and bullying

  • what Employees are to do if they are subject to harassment or bullying at work

  • the procedure the Employer will follow if a complaint about bullying or harassment is raised.

Electronic Devices/Social Media Policies

It can be useful to have a policy setting out how Employees are to use internet, voicemail and email while at work (both for business purposes or personal use). If an employer is monitoring business emails and internet use then it’s important the Employees know about this.

If a cell phone, laptop or other electronic device is provided to the Employee then an Electronic Device Policy can set out useful information about how that device is used and when it can be used, as well as how business confidentiality is to be maintained.

A Social Media Policy can clearly set out what an Employee can post on social media about their employment and other employees. It can also prohibit posting information sensitive to the Employer.

Privacy Policy

We suggest that at a minimum a Privacy Policy sets out what information is being collected, why and how the personal information is gathered, who will hold the information, how long it will be kept for, how it will be stored, and how an Employee can access and correct that information.

If an Employer is looking to use surveillance cameras in the workplace or work vehicles (either for general security or to monitor staff) then staff should be told about this in advance unless there are good reasons not to. As mentioned above Employees also need to be told how the information will be stored, that they can view it, how to make a request to view it etc.

How Pitt & Moore can help

If you would like us to review your current policies or draft new policies for your business we are happy to assist. We can also advise on how to introduce changes to policies and new policies to staff in a procedurally correct way.

Talk to us

If you would like advice on this topic or any other employment related issue please contact our Employment Team today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Heather Collins

Position: Associate
DDI: +64 3 545 6702

Topics: All Select