Employment law can be a minefield and simply keeping up with changes and ensuring your business is compliant can be a task in itself. But taking some time to review and update your policies and procedures to make sure they are clear and comprehensive, could help to prevent confusion or issues with employees at a later date.
I have been working with a small engineering business that initially approached me in respect of some employee related work. This was dealt with successfully and we turned to consider the internal employee related documentation to ensure it was up to date and compliant.
The Staff Handbook (“Handbook”) I received was in bits and pieces, a policy here, a procedure there, but it was not a consistent or meaningful document.
The aim of the Handbook is to set out the policies and procedures of the business and to provide guidance to both the employer and employer in respect of day-to-day issues that may arise. It is designed to be a comprehensive and standalone document that supports, but is not incorporated into, the Contract of Employment.
The Handbook can explain, for example:
I found, when working with this client that a lot of the policies were out-of-date or cumbersome. There were also a number missing and the business was unaware of its parental leave obligations.
On drafting a policy we were able to go through the legal requirements in respect of i.e. maternity and adoption leave and set out a position that worked for the company with the relevant statutory framework.
By drafting the Handbook from scratch we were able to set a ‘tone’ and an ‘ethos’ that reflected the owner managed nature of the business and the vision it was working towards.
We agreed a position on compassionate leave, updated the health and safety policy and also worked on how the Handbook would be usefully stored and disseminated to staff.
In discussing the Handbook we also addressed the issue of probationary periods which in turn led to a discussion about offer letters and making an offer of employment conditional on the receipt of positive references.
These were all things the company wanted to put in place but had not been able to do so. We worked together to create a document that was comprehensive, all-encompassing and up-to-date.
Having tailor made it to suit the business it will be a lot easier to revise and maintain moving forward. We also managed to iron out some poor practices that will now be changed in the future.
If you are considering a review of your policies or would like advice on any employment issue, please get in touch.