HR procedures outline the culture of fairness, trust and inclusion within an organisation in relation to both the employer and employee. Policies and procedures can support behaviours within the workforce that support consistent good performance as well as impacting reputation. A fair and inclusive workplace can have the effect of retaining and attracting talent which is a key consideration in the current difficult recruitment market.

What can happen if you don’t follow your procedures

There are many examples of employers not following their own procedures leading to employee relations issues. For example, if you don’t follow your disciplinary procedure or if you don’t take a formal grievance seriously, you could end up facing your employee in an employment tribunal and losing.
You will be aware of news reports where employers breach their health and safety procedures leading to death or serious injury of an employee. Those employers can lose reputation, clients and employees as a result.
Not taking a whistleblowing report from an employee seriously is another issue that can escalate if not dealt with in accordance with your procedure. An employer’s name can be all over the press for having treated a whistleblower badly.

Keeping on the right side of the law

Your procedures need to comply with current employment law of course. For example, you may decide a person with over 2 years’ service attending a disciplinary meeting doesn’t need the opportunity to bring a companion into the meeting. This is contrary to the ACAS guidance on disciplinary hearings and would be looked at as unacceptable practice in a tribunal.
If you don’t offer your employee the opportunity to appeal a decision on a grievance, again, you are falling foul of the law.
It is essential to keep your policies and procedures up to date as mistakes can be costly for employers. Do get in touch with me if you are concerned that your documentation is out-of-date.

Fairness

You may decide to treat 2 employees differently who have breached your social media policy and have publicly criticised your organisation. Consistency and fairness in similar cases are two things that a tribunal would look at.
If you dismiss an employee for stealing products from your business but allow another person committing the same misconduct to continue in your employment, again, that can come across as unfair and unacceptably inconsistent.

Avoiding problems

Having your policies and procedures or employee handbook checked by an HR specialist every few years is essential as laws and case law change on a regular basis. For example, a use of mobile phones whilst driving policy will need updating as the government has recently added restrictions.
Next year neonatal leave and pay is likely to be added to statutory benefits your employees may be eligible for, so this will need to be added to your policies.
It is important to communicate your policies and procedures clearly to avoid problems. Ensure the wording is clear on a particular policy and ensure that when you are explaining a procedure verbally that the person understands. If your policies aren’t working – why not obtain the input of your employees to get to the bottom of it?

It is important to keep up to date and not to be caught out. It is not just a paper exercise – it is helpful for you as an employer to understand what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace as workplace culture is changing at a fast pace.

Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you want your policies and procedures updated.

Get in touch

Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you need advice about this topic or HR related services HR Think offer.