A policy manual can form an essential part of your contract with each employee. Among other things, it helps you control your employees’ performance, hours of work, and interactions with one another and the public. A well drafted policy manual should be connected with each employee’s contract, so that you are able to easily revise the policies and enforce them with contractual effect.
Are you legally required to have a policy manual?
While most policies fall into the category of good business sense, the BC Workers Compensation Act requires every employer in British Columbia to implement a bullying and harassment policy. WorkSafeBC can fine employers that have no bullying and harassment policy in place. Aside from being required by law, bullying and harassment policies are a helpful tool for you to engage with your workers on difficult issues, resolve workplace disputes between employees, and discipline employees who misbehave.
A discrimination policy is not yet mandatory, but we anticipate that it may become mandatory at some point in the near future. Like the bullying and harassment policy, a discrimination policy helps you avoid and defend against discrimination complaints, navigate inclusion issues in the workplace, and maintain the appearance of being a modern, inclusive workplace.
You have an employment contract. Why do you need a policy manual?
Your business needs a policy manual because it can effectively set out rules in the workplace that give you full control over your workplace. While an employment contract covers the broad strokes of the employment relationship, a well drafted policy manual is an adaptable tool you can use to control the daily activities and interactions of your employees. A policy manual gives fine definition to the employment relationship.
Employment contracts are difficult to change, and should be revised as little as possible. However, you can achieve adaptability in your workplace by annexing a policy manual to the employment contract, and changing that policy manual whenever it suits your needs. This contract+policies combination is the most powerful and flexible way you can maintain control of your workplace.
You don’t need to implement all the policies at once. A policy manual is an organic structure that grows and changes as your business does. It’s perfectly fine to start with a basic suite of policies (we recommend bullying and harassment, discrimination, and progressive discipline as a minimum), and build it up as business needs arise. EmployRight offers a suite of policies priced with fixed fees, and we can adjust any policy to your specific needs.
A policy manual can help you control:
- The details of the employment relationship, with the legal force of a written employment contract;
- Professional standards of employee conduct;
- Employees’ use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco;
- Employees’ use of Internet and e-mail on company time;
- Employees’ activities on social media, even outside of work;
- Employee conflicts of interest;
- Unfair competition during and after the employment;
- Discrimination and harassment;
- Sexual harassment;
- Your company’s harassment reporting and resolution procedure;
- Your company’s progressive discipline procedure;
- Administrative policies;
- Hours of work and attendance;
- Overtime work;
- Benefits entitlement and information;
- Various forms of leaves of absence and vacation;
- Sick days and maternal leave;
- Statutory holidays;
- Short term and long term disability;
- Safety, security, and emergency procedures;
- Protection of data and personal information;
- Protection of your company’s intellectual property.
Armed with a thorough manual of relevant policies, especially one linked to a written employment contract, you are able to exert more consistent and detailed control over your workplace. clearly delineate procedures and expectations, and hold employees to high standards of performance and conduct.