Before starting any new business, it is imperative to have human resource policies in place. This preempts any misunderstanding about the duties and obligations of both the employer and employee.
It is very tempting for a new business or entrepreneur to concentrate more on the physical aspect of a new business, but the more prudent route is to have some form of HR policy in place even if it is a bare-bones one, one-page format. Get a lawyer or any consultant to give a once- over to the written HR policies format to avoid any legal hassles ahead. A written policy ensures that all rules and regulations are fairly and equitably applied.
Some business owners adopt the ad-hoc attitude where only the bare-bones policies of remuneration, leaves and such are covered. They tend to handle policies after a situation erupts and then the same is formulated and incorporated into the manual.
Such an attitude leaves an organization open to legal disputes.
There are some compliance issues concerning employees that the government mandates, and if the same are applied half-heartedly or in an incomplete manner, then again, it leaves the company vulnerable.
Moreover, employees are never happy working in an organization where their needs are looked upon in an ad-hoc manner. There will be greater turnovers and no incentive to stay in such a place.
Here are a few pointers on what to include while drafting a rule book of HR policies:
- Payment policies: Workdays, paydays and advances
- Payroll deductions
- Vacation policies
- Sick leaves and holidays (specify what all comes under sick leaves, personal leaves, voting leave, family leave, and domestic violence leave. Check your state and local law to ensure all leave requirements are included in your employee handbook.)
- Employment classification ( Long term, part-time, flexible, consultant, as this, will determine the remuneration and liabilities)
- Performance evaluation
- Probation period policy
- Lunch breaks and other breaks
- Perks and benefits
- Insurance policies and medical benefits
- Termination and resignation terms
- Office etiquette and conduct (This will include bad language, office violence, alcohol and drug abuse and even punctuality/attendance issues.)
- Safety and health (some regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act require employers to have specific policies and programs in place if certain workplace hazards exist, such as chemicals and other harmful substances.)
- Anti-harassment and non-discrimination (Non-discrimination laws are governed by federal, state and local provisions.)
Many templates are available online for human resource policy formulations. A good resource to have a ready reckoner is to go to the National Human Resource Association and the Society for Human Resource Managers’ websites.
These are excellent resources to find out about the compliance issues concerning state and federal employment requirements. A broad spectrum of issues need to be addressed depending on the kind of business you are in. Some businesses need to address privacy and protection issues, others remote and flexitime, substance and alcohol abuse, liabilities in case of office accidents, sponsorships, retirements, policy continuity, travel reimbursements, grievance procedures, diversity, age and gender compliance, sustainability and green commitments; the list can be endless.
Beyond this, the government requires you to maintain a lot of compliance records regarding employee numbers, safety regulations, filing of taxes and benefits, labor law compliance regarding premises safety, etc. Again it is better to hire a lawyer to ensure that all the requirements are met.
Along with this essential HR policies and procedures checklist, a company can have a hiring policy with transparent hiring and interview procedures in place. An induction program is beneficial. Also, a clear termination policy with an exit interview is recommended.