5 Key Reasons Why It's Important To Have Policies and Procedures

When I review an employer’s workplace practices, I consistently see businesses making avoidable mistakes. Many of my clients have policies in place because they should, without any real consideration for why they are so important. Policies and procedures, induction manuals and employee handbooks however can be very important to businesses. 

I was recently asked for the top 5 reasons why employers should have policies and procedures. While not the only reasons why you should have policies, below I have set out 5 important reasons why having policies and procedures in your workplace is a must. 

1. They set expectations 

Policies and procedures allow an employer to commit to writing the company’s values and mission.  They also set standards of behaviour, conduct and performance for employees.

As a result, policies and procedures clearly define and set the expectations for employees and provide a source of reference for employees to be able to review and check if they are meeting those expectations.

2. Keep management accountable 

In addition to setting standards for employees, policies and procedures also set standards for managers of a business.

This provides guidance to managers for how they are to conduct themselves and the standards they will be held to, but also provides transparency to the rest of the workforce as they can see the standards expected of their leaders and what they can in turn expect from their managers.

3. Ensure compliance with the law

Policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated will assist a company in meeting its obligations at law.  For instance a clear work health and safety policy will assist an employer in communicating its obligations to provide a safe workplace and how it will meet those obligations imposed on the business at law.  

4. Can help defend against employee claims 

Up to date policies and procedures can assist an employer in defending against legal claims.  For instance, in the case of a stop the bullying application before the Fair Work Commission, demonstrating that an employer has a bullying policy and a grievance policy, both of which have been referenced by the employer to investigate the allegation of bullying made, can be relied upon to demonstrate the reasonableness of an employer’s actions when responding to such a claim.

5. Lets employees know where to turn for help 

Finally, policies and procedures let employees know where they can turn to for help.  All policies should have a point of contact for queries relating to that policy so employees know who they can contact with questions.  Further, policies and procedures will set out the processes and options available for how any grievance can be addressed in the workplace. 

The above is not an exhaustive list but sets out some of the reasons why policies and procedures are important to a business. All policies and procedures should be carefully drafted to ensure that they are compliant with any legal obligations, but also on balance do not place onerous obligations on an employer that it may not or cannot comply with.  Policies and procedures should also be clear, concise and user friendly.

If you have any questions regarding policies and procedures, particularly the drafting of, implantation of or review and update of policies and procedures, please contact me today.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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