We love working with clients to prepare effective and easy to follow workplace policies. Here are our top tips for preparing a Tip Top Workplace Policy.

1. Use a numbering system

Numbering clauses or at least parts of your policy makes it easier to direct staff to relevant sections of the policy, and it’s easier to read and digest documents with a clear structure. It also means that, when you’re down to dealing with the pointy end of a workplace concern, you can refer to specific clauses in formal written correspondence to your staff. This complies with the requirements of courts, commissions or tribunals for employers to communicate which clause of a policy has actually been breached and is being relied upon to take disciplinary action.

2. Explain what you mean, check the legal significance of terms and keep them updated

This might seem obvious, but it’s important that you explain what significant terms mean in your policy. Don’t assume that the reader knows what they mean. For example, referring to ‘the workplace’ can often mean more than just the bricks-and-mortar office building. Use a definitions section or explain the terms in the relevant parts of the policy. Think about keeping it at the back of your policy, so you don’t lose your reader at the start of the policy.

Make sure that you’re referring to the legal meaning of terms like bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Also consider whether your policy is imposing obligations on the organisation which extend beyond the minimum legal requirements. Review them regularly to keep up with the continual changes in the workplace relations space, as legal definitions may change. For example, the meaning of casual employment, hostile workplace, and sex-based harassment.

3. Use examples

Insert examples of what you mean in a policy, which will help explain a concept and provide greater clarity about expectations.

4. Roles and responsibilities

Clearly set out who has what obligations, so everyone is clear on what they are responsible for. The policy may require different things from different roles eg managers, contact officers.

5. Refer to other relevant policy documents

You don’t need to list every potentially relevant policy under the sun, but you should refer the reader to directly relevant documents. For example, a Child Safety Policy should always refer the reader to a Child Safety Procedure and Child Safety Code of Conduct. If you wish to encourage staff to resolve grievances themselves, make sure you reference any dispute/grievance policy.

6. Inform staff of new or updated policies

This is a significant step. A policy that is hiding in the deep, in a dark HR vault, or high in the virtual cloud, is not going to influence behaviour. Train staff on your policy. Otherwise it’s going to make it difficult to rely upon when effecting a disciplinary process.

7. Seek feedback on your policies

A safe, respectful and inclusive workplace culture looks for ways to continually improve. Inviting staff, or their union, to provide feedback on a policy, particularly before it is issued, is a positive step and will help achieve buy-in (not to mention awareness).

8. Review regularly

Date your policy and diarise when it will be reviewed. Policies should also be reviewed when there are significant legal changes. Some policies will benefit from more regular reviews than others. For example, you might want to review a new policy after 12 months and seek feedback from staff at that time.

How Justitia can help

We are passionate about creating workplace policies that are engaging and make sense. We can help you by providing a final review of your Tip Top Policy, by preparing the policy for you or by selling you one of our off-the-shelf templates! Contact Melissa Elleray or any of our policy-loving team for more information.