Tips for Development of Company Policies

The first policy, as a business owner to write is a policy about when your employees will be paid and what they need to do to be paid. As a new company, you may want to investigate concerns such as privacy, confidentiality and non-competebusiness-people-group agreements. However, these are tricky under state laws and especially, in employment-at-will states. You will need a very experienced lawyer to properly address these legal issues with you as well as your legal ramifications versus internal protection protocols you may need to develop. As a company gains experience, it should revise its policies one to two times per year based on the circumstances and situations they experience that may be different from what was originally anticipated when the first policies were written. As a company is blessed with longevity, every five years it should revisit its policies in light of developing and new technologies and changing market factors. An experienced attorney should also be able to investigate or tell you about developments in the law that may affect your policies. Research is often necessary to ensure comprehensive review of the scenarios and facts applicable to your company.
As a mature company, your policies should outline prohibited conduct, with examples, so that you establish proper employee expectations and the employees know who to contact if they have an issue. Furthermore, if situations develop to the point of an employee, or even a manager, wanting to make an official complaint, they should know how and to whom. This keeps the matter under internal review and allows the company to grow as it experiences new situations. Also, the employee is provided a clear recourse to voice his or her concerns in an informal manner. The policy should tell an employee and a manager how to make a complaint, and explain the process associated with the administration and investigation of the complaint. The person responsible for the investigation of the complaint should be identified. Your complaint policy should assure employees that no retaliation will occur against them for reports made in good faith.
Often times, management policies are separated from the ones given to non-management employees. This is proper in many situations for many reasons, but I see no reason to empower employees in policies without mentioning to those employees that management has that same right when employees harass and disrespect them. Respect for each other, proper behaviour and team building is to be encouraged. I view reminding employees of this mutual obligation including management (not just themselves) as a positive aspect of building a proper corporate culture and positive work environment.
What does an employee or manager do if they have a complaint? It should be clear how an employee is to make their complaint. They may be a victim or a witness. Management should be required to report violations of company rules or forwarding complaints they hear. Usually a person’s supervisor, a human resource person and one other person may be designated to receive complaints. If an employee is being harassed or mistreated by his or her own supervisor, this allows the worker to complain to one not part of the complaint. It can also help an employee’s comfort level by reporting a complaint to one not making employment decisions about him or her. Include a confidentiality of information statement, and that corrective action will be taken.

Open-Door Policy

“An open-door policy can be very informal; indeed, adopting a friendly, informal tone will help encourage your employees to come forward with their concerns and ideas.” Written Open Door policies should provide statements on the following: 1. Purpose a. Describe the reasons for the open-door policy. Examples, are to facilitate communication between employees and management, to encourage employees to report work related concerns, to find out what employees think. 2. Appropriate topics a. Explain issues that may be raised. Examples may be included, such as problems with a coworkers or a supervisor, ideas for the company, or topics for company meetings. 3. Whose door is open: a. Tell employees to whom they should speak. Examples include a supervisor or manager, the company president or CEO, a company officer, or the human resource department. 4. Encouragement a. Tell them the Company is eager to hear concerns. Otherwise, employees may not use the open door policy and it will be of any benefit. If you facilitate a company environment that is open and receptive for discussions, many problems can be identified and resolved before they reach a critical level.

Anti-discrimination Policy

A Company’s anti-discrimination policy should make it clear their commitment to Equal Opportunity for all. The policy provisions should be applied the same to all. The Complaint policy should be identified clearly, so employees know what to do in the event they believe they have a discrimination complaint. As always, employees should know retaliation is not permitted. Managers must report discriminatory conduct and the policy should state the employer will take corrective action.

Anti-harassment Policy

Like the other policies, the same procedures should be followed, along with a description of what harassment is and that it should be reported and will not be tolerated.

Anti-violence Policy

The policy should clearly state that violence, threats of violence or comments about violence will not be tolerated, should be reported and corrective action taken. No weapons should be allowed on premises. If weapons are required for the job, then some modification may be necessary. Otherwise, the policy should state retaliation is not permitted and corrective action will be taken. If you wish to read more on the topic please take a look at Ms. Cinocca’s full paper on Employee Discharge Documentation in Oklahoma: FMLA Overview Litigation.