What are HR policies and why are they important?
HR policies are a written description of rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. There are certain HR policies that are required by law and others that it would be wise to have. Both should be in written form. If a policy is well developed and clearly written, it helps communication with employees, clarifies expectations and makes sure that everyone is treated in a consistent and fair way. These are all important factors for creating a desirable culture for your organisation, and they minimise your exposure to legal risk.
Organisations introduce HR policies for very different reasons. These can include:
- needing to comply with existing or new legislation, including European directives and case law
- wishing to develop a more formal and consistent approach to meet their needs as they grow and develop, for example, on flexible working hours
- supporting their general management strategy and Vision, Mission and Values
- following the latest developments in effective people management
- dealing with internal change
- keeping up with competitors – for example, policies may be reviewed in order to attract or retain employees
A small organisation is likely to need just a few HR policies and procedures. As your organisation grows, or the environment in which it operates alters, your requirement for HR policies will change. Your policies and procedures will need to be reviewed and, perhaps, new ones introduced. It is important to remember that however well the policies and procedures are written and communicated, it is the implementation that is crucial for them to be effective.
Employing staff for the first time
There are 6 things you need to do when employing staff for the first time.
- Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
- Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
- Apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.
- Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
- Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
- Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.
What other human resources policies do I need?
Depending on the size of your organisation, you will need to comply with the minimal legal requirements – for example, a written health and safety policy is required for any organisation with five or more employees.
Currently, all businesses should have policies on;
- Bullying and harassment
- Discipline/dismissal and grievance (this must be in writing)
- Equality and diversity
- Health and Safety (if you have more than five employees; in writing)
- Maternity / paternity / adoption
- Smoking, drugs and alcohol
- Whistleblowing / protected disclosure
- Working time and time off
- Data Protection Act
Depending on your size and business, it is good practice to have other written HR policies in place; for example, a policy on the use of company facilities (email, internet and phone use). Having clear policies and procedures means that everyone knows what is expected. This means that there should be fewer problems with and between employees, and the team will work more effectively.
Additional policies you might consider having (which are not legal requirements) include:
- Confidentiality of information
- Patents and copyrights
- Rewards, benefits and expenses
- Right to search
- Use of company facilities (phone, email, internet, etc.)
- Training and development
- Working for another employer
- Hybrid Working
- Flexible Working
- Right to Disconnect
About Aspire HR
Headquartered in Cambridge, UK Aspire HR make Human Resources available and affordable to all companies no matter how small. Few businesses can afford a full time HR professional.
Aspire HR is your flexible HR manager; here to help you protect your business, leaving you to concentrate on what you do best – run your business. We help businesses to grow and be profitable, and we look to partner with you to build strong long-standing relationships.
Get in touch with our CIPD accredited HR Consultants today on 01223 855441.