It’s good pol­icy to keep your em­ployee hand­books up to date and supplied to staff

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Caro­line Mcenery

an em­ployee hand­book re­ally es­sen­tial if I al­ready have con­tracts is­sued to all staff ?

that you, as an em­ployer or man­ager, are com­pli­ant in terms of em­ploy­ment law is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial. In line with cur­rent em­ploy­ment leg­is­la­tion all em­ploy­ees should have re­ceived and signed off on the com­pany dis­ci­plinary and griev­ance pro­ce­dure within 28 days of com­mence­ment of em­ploy­ment.

It is very im­por­tant to en­sure that you not only have the nec­es­sary pro­ce­dure in place but that it has been is­sued to and signed off by all em­ploy­ees in or­der to guar­an­tee that you are in a po­si­tion to cor­rectly man­age dis­ci­plinary is­sues in the work­place.

The eas­i­est way to en­sure that this is the case is to is­sue all em­ploy­ees with a copy of an em­ployee hand­book that con­tains all com­pany poli­cies.

Em­ployee con­tracts are is­sued at the be­gin­ning of the em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ship, but they do not take into ac­count po­ten­tial changes to cer­tain work prac­tices or changes to the leg­is­la­tion in the fu­ture. There­fore, it is rec­om­mended that it is made clear that the em­ployee is in agree­ment with the con­di­tions stated in both the writ­ten con­tract of em­ploy­ment and the em­ployee hand­book.

Ex­am­ples of poli­cies that should also be in­cluded at a min­i­mum are as fol­lows: • Griev­ance and dis­ci­plinary; •Dig­nity and re­spect (anti-bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment); • Data pro­tec­tion pol­icy; • So­cial me­dia/use of phone; • Sick leave; • Ab­sence from work; • Staff pur­chase/dis­count pol­icy; • CCTV pol­icy; • Al­co­hol pol­icy; • Honesty pol­icy; • Clock­ing-in pro­ce­dure.

For any “grey ar­eas” in your or­gan­i­sa­tion in terms of ex­pected be­hav­iour of em­ploy­ees or what the com­pany po­si­tion is on cer­tain things, the best way to com­bat these grey ar­eas is to draft a pol­icy for in­clu­sion in your em­ployee hand­book.

When deal­ing with dis­ci­plinary is­sues or de­fend­ing claims at third-party hear­ings at the WRC or the Labour Court, it may not be suf­fi­cient to sim­ply pro­duce a doc­u­ment signed by an em­ployee ac­knowl­edg­ing re­ceipt of a par­tic­u­lar hand­book or pol­icy.

The pol­icy must be ro­bust and widely known and un­der­stood.

Em­ployee hand­books should be checked reg­u­larly to en­sure that they are up to date with any leg­isla­tive changes and should also take into ac­count any changes in work prac­tices.

Reg­u­larly reis­su­ing your em­ployee hand­book and get­ting all em­ploy­ees to sign off on the lat­est edi­tion of it is ad­vis­able.

Hand­books should also be a form of a “go-to guide” for your em­ploy­ees for mat­ters that they need in­for­ma­tion on.

You can in­clude any rel­e­vant com­pany in­for­ma­tion, com­pany his­tory, your cul­ture and core val­ues. It is also good to have poli­cies in place for any po­ten­tially con­tentious is­sues to en­sure em­ploy­ees are on the same page when it comes to deal­ing with these.

It is vi­tally im­por­tant that your em­ployee hand­book and the poli­cies within are drafted by an ex­pe­ri­enced HR pro­fes­sional. The se­cret to deal­ing ef­fec­tively with em­ployee is­sues is for em­ploy­ers to pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to com­pany pol­icy or rules and reg­u­la­tions on this is­sue.

It is also es­sen­tial that these rules and reg­u­la­tions are ap­plied con­sis­tently, and es­sen­tial that em­ploy­ers not op­er­ate out­side the pa­ram­e­ters of their own poli­cies.

We deal with a wide va­ri­ety of em­ployer queries in the HR Suite. If a client calls us with a par­tic­u­lar query, we of­ten get asked what is the next step or what is the best course of ac­tion — and our re­sponse will usu­ally start with the fol­low­ing question — “What does your pol­icy say in re­la­tion to this?”

Your poli­cies within your em­ployee hand­book set the stan­dard, and so they will be your start­ing point in deal­ing with any em­ployee is­sue. If you have ques­tions in re­la­tion to em­ployee hand­books, or if you would like us to as­sist in draft­ing one for your or­gan­i­sa­tion, please do not hes­i­tate to call us di­rectly in the of­fice on 066-7102887/(01) 901 4335, via email at info@thehrsuit­eon­line.com or visit our web­site di­rectly at www.thehrsuit­eon­line.com.

Make sure all your staff are on the same page — and do that through a book of poli­cies

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