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What’s your policy on policies?

Some words make your heart sink and we know that “policy” and “handbook” are among them. Nobody starts the working day looking forward to a discussion about policies and employee handbooks.

So why bother? Well, why have any rules at all – can’t you just make it up as you go along? The short answer’s no, unless you want to open yourself up to both legal risks and wasting time answering repeated questions from employees about the same issues. You still have to comply with legal minimums in key areas, which might mean a few surprises along the way for you if you don’t see them coming.

Setting out your rules – the way you handle things – in areas such as taking holidays, what happens if people go off sick (especially if it’s for months) or want time off work when they become parents, will keep everything clear. Your employees can check the answers for themselves and know what’s relevant, what to do and what it means for their pay.

It also means you have the ability to take action if there are any problems. One example is if someone misbehaves on social media and criticises you, the company or the clients. You need to have warned them in advance if that kind of behaviour might get them into trouble (there’s employment law on this point), so a social media policy is the perfect solution.

If you have a handbook or bundle of policies at the moment, then there are a couple of areas that might need updating because of recent law changes. For example, all employees can now make flexible working requests and shared parental leave has arrived, giving people the right to split maternity leave.

We can review your policies, let you know if anything needs changing, plug any gaps and tailor all this so that the rules you’re using are right for you – we don’t use a “one size fits all” approach.