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Are policies anything more than workplace rules?
September 2, 2019
Are policies anything more than workplace rules?

All but the tiniest workplaces should have a policy manual that contains employment policies and procedures.  Having a well-drafted policy improves the operational efficiency of a workplace, as they serve several legal and communicative functions.  Policies and procedures should grow and change with your organization and with legislative requirements.  

What are policies and procedures?

In general, a policy is a set of guiding principles that outline a plan for various issues that may arise in the workplace.  Policies are a way for the employer and management to communicate to the workers the organizations’ vision and values, as well as the day-to-to day operations and various legislative requirements. 

In contrast, a procedure describes the plan for carrying out a policy.  Procedures communicate to employees how to deal with a specific situation. 

Overall, policies and procedures ensure a safe, organized, and non-discriminatory workplace.  The purpose of a policy and procedure is to communicate, be it a workplace rule, or a legislative requirement, what management wishes to have happen and how it happens. Failing to have adequate policies in place may expose an employer to liability. Depending on the circumstance, even where no policy is required by law, employers could be liable for failing to take reasonable steps to avoid breaching their obligations as an employer.  An employer may also be breaking a law that makes a policy legally required. Policies, therefore, are more than just workplace rules, in some cases they protect the organization legally. 

Types of Company Policies: 

Employee Conduct: 

Policies concerning employee conduct establish guidelines for employee behaviour.  They vary across workplaces and industries as they set out the specific responsibilities and tasks that all workers must follow.   These can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Dress code

  • Termination

  • Discipline

  • Information Technology and Electronic Use Policies

  • Social Media Policies

  • Confidentiality agreements

Personnel Policies: 

Personnel policies should be covered upon hiring.  Much like employee conduct policies, they vary across workplaces and industries. They can include but are not limited to: 

  • Employment terms

  • Wages and salary

  • Bonuses

  • Vacations

  • Sick days

  • Retirement

  • Benefits

  • Overtime

  • Conflicts, Nepotism, and/or Fraternization Policies

Legislated Policies: 

All Ontario employers are legislated to have these policies in place in their workplace. These include: Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy, Occupational Health and Safety Policy, and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.  These are enabled by the above statutes and are legally imposed on employers. **Certain industries may also have their own set of mandatory policies. **

While it is not explicitly mandated by Ontario’s Human Rights Code, it is generally expected that all employers have a human rights policy that provides for protections against discrimination and harassment in employment based on protected grounds. Additionally, there is an expectation to provide a means for bringing complaints within the workplace.  Therefore, all Ontario employers should have an Antidiscrimination, Harassment, and Complaints Policy. 

If you require assistance in any area of employment policy or procedures, contact Essential HR today to see how we can help! 

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