Corporate Human Resources policies: what should this cover?

Some years ago, in one of my General Counsel roles, my client wanted to re-vamp its entire Human Resources system.

What should this ideally cover?

A policy document should start with a statement of its objectives, and the range and types of personnel which it applies to.

The responsibilities of the human resources function itself should be set out in summary form, defining its role for example in employee performance appraisals, and disciplinary matters.

In an organisation with a relatively large workforce, the document should look at the subject of manpower planning, and in particular should detail the planning process.

Recruitment and employee selection will also be a key section in the policy document, with recruitment criteria and the recruitment selection process being at the heart of that. It might describe planned and also unplanned recruitment. It might describe the various sources of recruitment which the employer utilises. It may distinguish between internal and external recruitment.

In the context of recruitment, the policy document may consider employee conflicts of interest.

In more complex organisations, there may be a system of onboarding, and the policy document will address that too. There may be an appointment, induction and confirmation procedure followed, and this will need to set out in the policy document in some detail.

A section on employment management will describe and define probationary periods, work schedules, absence management, and the processes relating to employee leave. Indeed there may be a number of different kinds of employee leave (annual leave, maternity leave, emergency leave, and so on), and these will need to be defined and explained.  

The subject of employee compensation and benefits will be a key part of the policy document. There may be an employee grading structure followed, and that will need to be described clearly.

Training and development of employees may also be a key part of the policy, and the policy may describe the objectives of employee training, and the production and maintenance of a training calendar or programme. Training may be of various kinds (on-the-job, competency-based, and so on), and so the policy document should describe each of these.

Employee performance management will also be key, and a larger organisation may want to design KPIs or ‘key performance indicators’ for each type of role. There may be SMART goals involved for each job function, and this will need to be described carefully. The employer may want to have annual performance reviews of each role, and the system and procedure for carrying this out will need to be fully set out.

Talent management and succession planning will be an important area to focus on, with policy and procedure addressing the subject of employee promotion.

A grievance policy, and procedures for making complaints may be necessary.

Finally, the policy document should address the subject of ‘separation’, or in short dismissal, resignation, redundancy, and the like.     

Most importantly, the human resources policy document must be reviewed and approved by an appropriately qualified employment lawyer, familiar with the relevant regulatory framework in that jurisdiction. It should be carefully drafted, to avoid any ambiguity or material errors; and it should be signed-off by all responsible parties within the organisation, including for example the senior management, the legal function, the human resources department if there is one, and so on.

This blog is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as consisting of or containing legal advice.

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