Are your contracts and policies up to date?

Having clear, current and well-established policies, procedures and employment contracts is vital for employers and employees. Well documented policies, procedures and contracts outline employee entitlements and expectations, and can assist in resolving workplace issues.

One of the foundations of a happy, healthy, stable, and productive workplace can be established through well-written employment contracts, policies and procedures. Solid, meaningful policies and procedures and contracts provide employees an understanding of what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour, what they are entitled to, what is expected of them, and these documents act as a guide for how employees should undertake their duties. They are a framework for employers to assist them to effectively manage the workplace.

Why do you need contracts, policies, and procedures?

Employers can face a myriad of issues if an employee does not have an employment contract. It can become difficult to regulate hours of work, overtime and penalty payments and termination or resignation timeframes become undefined. Some benefits of employment contracts include protecting the confidentiality and intellectual property of an employer, outline performance indicators and regulate leave entitlements, amongst other things.

Effectively implemented policies and procedures are central to developing and maintaining a high level of workplace standards and help uphold appropriate employee behaviour. They assist employers to fulfil legislative obligations regarding issues such as bullying and harassment, workplace safety and unfair dismissals. They outline what is expected of employees not only from the perspective of their employer but by law.

Reviewing employment contracts, policies, and procedures

Change in the workplace is inevitable. Whether this is a procedural adjustment or update to legislation, change occurs regularly. This is why it is important policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and fit for purpose. Reviewing policies and procedures is often overlooked until there is a workplace incident or policy violation, which constraints effectively manage the issue.

Policy and procedures should be dynamic, live documents that consistently grow and adapt alongside the business and legislation. Outdated policies and procedures can leave a business exposed, particularly if they fail to consider changes to legislation. Regularly reviewing policies and procedures ensures they remain consistent with industry best practice, business requirements and current legislation.

Similarly, regularly reviewing employment contracts ensures they are aligned with relevant legislation, award entitlements and consistent with the expectations and duties of the position.

Updating employment contracts, policies, and procedures

Employment contracts, policies and procedures should be reviewed annually. This does not have to be an onerous task. Allocating certain documents for members of the leadership team to review, or reviewing a document every month will ease the load and prevent this important task from being overlooked. There will be instances where a policy and procedure will need to be reviewed outside this schedule, such as when organisational change occurs.

Some important points to consider when reviewing policies and procedures includes:

  • Is the goal and objective of the policy relevant?
  • How effective is the policy?
  • Are the policies and procedures current and relevant?

There will be times where specialist input is required to ensure policies and procedures are robust or employee consultation is required. Once changes have been made, they need to be approved from a managerial level and updates communicated to employees and updated document distributed.

Adequate employment contracts, policies and procedures assists employers to protect their interests, avoid liability to a range of issues, help them address workplace disputes and assists employees to understand what is expected of them and what they are entitled to. The value of well-developed employment contracts, policies and procedures should not be underestimated, and neither should the importance of reviewing them.

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