No matter the size of your business, understanding the benefits of effective policy building will be a benefit to you. The question you need to ask is: When are your workplace policies really policies? Do you enforce them-ensuring that if they are breached, appropriate action is taken?
The policies that you implement are put in place to protect you as an employer, ensure that you remain compliant and allow you to run your business effectively.
But how stringently do you uphold and enforce the policies that you employ?
Having a policy, but not enforcing it, can mean that when push comes to shove, it won’t hold up as grounds for discipline or dismissal, which is surely why you put it there in the first place?
2 Reasons why you should create then enforce workplace policy – laws in the workplace
Reason 1 – swearing at manager – Fair Work Australia
Earlier this year Fair Work Australia ordered that an employee who was terminated for swearing at his manager was to be reinstated; backing his claim of unfair dismissal. The employee had reacted angrily and used profanities during conversations with his manager on two separate occasions on the same day, in response to his allocation to a faulty work vehicle. He was terminated the following day.
The employer in question did in fact have a “zero tolerance” policy on swearing in the workplace, but it was discovered that this policy was never really enforced and so swearing regularly occurred without the consequence of disciplinary procedures.
A policy that it not upheld or enforced is not very useful when it comes to protecting your business
Reason 2 – excessive use of social media – Fair Work Australia
Another example can be found with the case of an architect who was dismissed by his employer for excessive use of social media during work hours, the allegations claimed he logged over 3,000 Google Mail chats in a three month period. Whereas the employee claimed he would not use any social media sites for more than 20 minutes each day.
Fair Work Australia found in favour of the employee’s unfair dismissal claim and awarded him compensation, as in this case there was not enough evidence to establish the claim of over-use. No allegations had been put to the employee before this point, or any warnings given with a chance for the employee to respond. There was basically, no establishment or enforcement of a social media policy leaving the employer with no evidence or procedure to fall back on.
In other words, a policy that it not upheld or enforced is not very useful when it comes to protecting your business. Of course, every employee is by no means a liability waiting to abuse the preferential guidelines set in front of them, but nevertheless, you are leaving yourself exposed if you are not careful to finish what you started.
Melinda is a HR Manager with Employment Innovations (EI), based in Melbourne; she primarily assists clients in the retail and hospitality industry. With over 10 years of experience in human resource management, Mel provides advice and training on HR practices and employment law, assisting clients with the implementation of effective human resource tools and strategies. Visit www.thinkei.com.
Top image: Credit