Getting workplace rules right

We all need rules in the workplace, but when do they cross the line?

People have been talking a lot about Facebook and Google who have reportedly asked staff not to ask colleagues out on a date twice. If a colleague says no, the employee is not allowed to ask again.

In the United States, love contracts, which are contracts which formally declare that the relationship is consensual, are quite common. The aim of these types of contracts is to protect the employer in case one of the employees in the relationships claims they have suffered sexual harassment.

However, their use is not recommended in the UK as it could be considered a breach of human rights laws. The most sensible approach is for employers to have workplace rules on personal relationships at work, with the aim of ensuring that individual members of staff are not open to allegations of impropriety, bias, abuse of authority or conflict of interest.

It is not just rules about workplace relationships that have caused debate. In the past, we have read stories of some employers docking wages for being two minutes late to work or monitoring the time someone spends in the toilet.

But does being super strict mean that you will get the very best out of your employees? Or are these types of rules actually counterproductive and make employees feel like they can’t be trusted?

Getting the balance right

When drafting or reviewing your rules, what really matters is making sure that they are reasonable, non-discriminatory, relevant and fit for purpose.

Here are seven top tips:

Discuss rules with employees

You should talk to your employees to discuss what rules you wish to implement. This helps them understand the reasons behind the rules and allows them to raise their concerns. Hopefully this will ensure that are on board.

By undertaking employee engagement surveys, you can detect if any rules are particularly troublesome for employees and see if anything needs to be addressed.

Make sure rules align with organisation’s culture

All your rules should take into account the size, sector, culture and values of your organisation. What suits one organisation will not necessarily suit another, so make sure you tailor your rules to your needs.

Put all your rules in your Employee Handbook

It is considered best practice to have all your HR policies, procedures and rules written down in the Employee Handbook. If you do not have one, contact us and we can draft one for you.

Communicate the rules to all your employees

You should give employees a copy of the Employee Handbook and get them to read and sign a receipt confirming they have read and understood its contents. You can also put important policies on notice boards in common areas or upload to the company intranet for easy access.

Manage any breaches to the rules

Unfortunately, rules can be broken. If you notice that employees are not abiding by a specific policy, you will need to address this. You may need to give specific training to ensure people know the rules or send around a memo reminding employees of what is expected of them.

Lead by example

Managers should lead by example. If they are continually breaking the rules, how can you expect everyone else to follow them?

Monitor and review the rules

Your workplace rules need to be monitored and reviewed frequently to ensure that you comply with new legislation, judgments, business change and any cultural changes (remember the problems Pokemon Go was causing for employers?)

If your Employee Handbook is not of a contractual nature, it allows you to make changes to its contents without requiring the formal consent of its employees. Seek advice to discuss this further.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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