We've all been there. You're thinking to yourself, "why don't I see if there is a template online for the document I am looking for?". You do a quick Google search for "free vacation policy template" and you find several websites offering you a free policy you can put into your employee handbook and, voila, problem solved.
Here are some things to consider before putting that policy into place and why HR policies are not a one-size fits all solution.
Do I really need this policy?
The first thing to consider is, do I really need this policy? If it is legislated, then, yes you will need a policy but you don't need a policy to cover every situation. If you are the type of workplace that has someone who leaves old food in the fridge, do you need to put a policy in place to deal with "Fridge Etiquette"? I would suggest having a conversation with that employee rather than putting a needless policy in place.
Policies help eliminate uncertainty and provide clarity for both managers and employees on the expectations of the organization. Make sure that they don't lose their value by creating largely unenforceable policies like banning milk with cereal.
Different jurisdictions have different rules
Each jurisdiction has employment legislation which governs the minimum standards for the employment relationship. The laws govern things like vacation, leaves of absences, minimum wages, overtime rules, etc. You need to ensure that the policy you are putting into place either meets or exceeds the minimum standards set out in the jurisdiction in which you are operating.
Your employee have (or should have) an employment contract outlining some of the details of their employment, including hours, compensation, benefits, vacation time, etc. Either make sure your new policies do not conflict with those agreements or be prepared to have special rules for special people. By unilaterally changing the terms of the employment relationship, you open yourself up to a claim for constructive dismissal.
Does the policy match your company culture and the direction you see? General Motors has a famous dress code policy that I will share with you now: "Dress Appropriately". GM believes these two words are enough to provide clarity and guidance to their staff to make choices on their clothing while at work. GM is making a statement of trust with their employees by giving them the freedom to decide their dress code. Other organizations believe that their policies need to provide clear guidance to their staff to ensure that their expectations are being met. I am not saying one way is better than the other, but rather consider the impacts that policies can have. Read more about the GM policy here
Conflicts with other policies
Your new policy template might conflict with other policies in your handbook which creates uncertainty. These conflicts might be appear until a situation arises that you pull your policy manual out to review and realize that it conflicts with another part of the manual. What do you do then?
Is it legal?
You must ensure they do not infringe on an individual's human rights and does not discriminate against anyone who is protected by legislation. Policies need to be enforceable as well. If you intend to put a policy in place, make sure that you can hold employees accountable to the policy. It would be hard to argue that you had just cause to terminate an employee because of their poor fridge etiquette.
The UpSourced HR Approach
Our policies are written for your organization taking into consideration all of the points above by leveraging experience and by working with you to determine your culture and intent. Contact us today to find out more.