Employment policies – what are the legal requirements?

We are a small company and have just grown to 12 members of staff.  I have introduced a health and safety policy but am unsure of the legal requirements about other employment policies such as disciplinary and grievance.  Please could you give me some advice? I have looked on the Government website, which is rather confusing – it says ”  Common types of employment policies and whether they have to contain minimum legal requirements” –  do you know if this means there is a legal requirement to have these policies or if you have them you must include certain material? I hope I have made myself clear, because I am confusing myself!! Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You are off to a good start – if you have more than 5 employees you do indeed need to have, under current legislation, a written Health and Safety Policy. You also need to ensure you issue a written statement of terms and conditions of employment to new starts within 8 weeks of commencement.

In terms of other legal requirements to have actual policy documents there really aren’t any. However  as your company grows and develops, it makes sense to introduce policies to ensure a consistent and fair approach – this avoids wasting time and management effort by having crises dealt with in an uncoordinated and ad hoc way. There is also of course the requirement to take account of employment law and it is much easier to do this if you create and introduce policies which meet all these requirements. Things to take account of are:

Discipline / Grievance – you are bound to take account of the ACAS statutory Code of Practice on discipline /dismissal and grievance. A failure to follow the Code does not, in itself, make the company liable to proceedings. However, employment tribunals will take the Code into account when considering relevant cases.

Redundancy – needs to be within the legal arrangements for making individuals or groups redundant including selection for redundancy and consultation requirements.

Parental Rights – Individual and shared maternity /adoption and paternity pay and leave; parental leave entitlements.

Working time arrangements – entitlements to annual leave and other time off.

Equalitythe statutory codes of practice issued under the Equality Act 2010 recommends that an employer should have an Equality Policy and gives guidance as to what it should contain. Although the code does not itself have legal status, breaches of it can be taken into account by an Employment Tribunal in determining an employer’s liability for discrimination and harassment claims.

Pay – you should be sure that you pay policy meets the obligations under the minimum wage legislation for all affected age groups.

Whistle blowing – individuals have protected rights when making a qualifying disclosure.

Health & Safety – covers a range of statutory issues like risk assessment, assessment of pregnant and new mothers, policy on smoking on company premises. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), require you to report work-related accidents, diseases and near-miss incidents.

As the company grows you might als want to consider these policies:

  • Time off for Dependants and other emergencies;
  • Flexible Working;
  • Email and Internet Policy (assuming employees have such access), including a Social Media Policy
  • Drugs and Alcohol;
  • Bribery & Fraud;
  • Data Protection / General Data Protection Regulation

The easiest way to deal with all these issues is to simply set them out in your company staff handbook if you have one (or wish to develop one), but there is nothing to stop you doing it by introducing individual policies either.


(Article updated January 2018)

Comments are closed.