It’s good practice to keep your workplace policies and procedures up to date, as legal requirements and your business change over time.
Questions to consider:
1. When was the policy or procedure last reviewed – when is the next review date scheduled?
The review may also be because of a workplace incident or problem: don’t wait until the next review date if this is so. Act now.
2. Is the audience for the policy or procedure the same as it was before review – i.e. who is likely to use it and therefore required to participate in its review?
Your policy writing team will differ depending on the policy. It could include supervisors who oversee the procedures, managers, HR directors, or executives. Try to gather a diverse group of people from different departments who have a say in that part of the business.
If it’s a small change, it may be as simple as recommending the specific changes in language or phrasing. In other cases – especially in the case of changes to laws or regulations – it may be a more involved change process. You may need to gather input from subject matter experts or general counsel.
3. Does everyone who is supposed to know this policy or procedure know – at least of – it and where to find it?
Distributing new policies to employees is the first step in implementing policy changes.
To ensure that employees read and understand policy updates, have them sign off on any new or altered policy.
4. Are the policies and procedures current and relevant?
Make sure your policies and procedures line up with how your current systems and structures actually work.
If policies and procedures refer back to old structures or technology, employees are more likely to ignore them or think that they don’t matter.
For example, perhaps your company has adopted flexible work arrangements, but your attendance and tardiness policy still revolves around old standard hours. You will need to update that to reflect the current system and make the new expectations clear.
You should also consider any external factors, such as legislative changes, that could affect your internal polices and procedures.
5. If internal or otherwise training is offered to support implementation of the policy or procedure, when was the last training offered and is anyone in need of training?
Policy and training go hand in hand. So when you update policies and procedures, you’ll need to update training materials as well.
Make sure your training content matches the updated language and includes the correct procedures.
If the policy change is extensive enough, you may want to consider conducting training on the new processes to ensure employees understand the new policies and procedures.
6. Is everyone clear of the intention of the policy and procedure?
Understanding the intention of the policy may not be the same as merely reading it. For example, perhaps a policy was put in place to improve employee safety. If employees are following the policy but accidents are still occurring at the same rate, it’s time to examine how you can change the policy and maybe redraft it so that the intention is clear.
7. How often has the policy or procedure been used in the last period of time (e.g. 3 or 12 months)?
The frequency of use may dictate whether a policy is worth keeping or not.
8. Were there any issues with understanding, following or applying the policy or procedure when it has been used?
As with other issues such as drafting, make sure to document all comments, notes, and input, even if they seem irrelevant.
Often, it’s helpful to appoint one ‘policy owner’ to gather all the feedback and make the final edits. But you don’t want any essential feedback to slip through the cracks.
And make sure you act on any outstanding issues.
9. What strategies can be implemented to ensure maximum consistency of application of the policy or procedure?
Employees want the freedom to do their jobs without someone breathing down their necks. For some, it becomes burdensome when they have to follow policies and procedures every time, but it’s got to be done, notwithstanding the fact that human beings are naturally resistant to change.
So, make sure that your procedures are in writing and easily accessible: re-tell employees why procedures are necessary: and reward compliance and guide stragglers.
10. Are there any policies or procedures not currently developed that would be of benefit or that are required – and if so who is going to take responsibility for doing so?
Document them, test them, and consider implementing them, even on a trial basis.
If you need assistance on this or other matters, give JFMLAW a call on 02 9331 0266. A member of our team will be happy to help.
John Morrissey has been a practising Sydney solicitor for 30 years, and for the past 20 a sole practitioner and the principal at JFMLAW.
His main focus employment law, advising small to medium-sized firms and their employees of their rights and obligations.
For many years he was a lecturer at UTS to students obtaining Masters in Human Resources Management with a focus on performance management and creating a culture of delivery in workplaces. John has acted for a significant number of employers, not only in developing a performance based culture in the workplace but also solving particular problems that arise relating to unfair dismissal, contract disputes, improper use of intellectual property or other property as well as enforcements of restraints of trade.
John is very happy to speak to any employer who has an issue on a free of charge basis by a phone call. Please feel free to ring John at anytime up to 6pm most days.