Which HR policies do you need in your organisation for 2024-2025?

Having clear and robust HR policies is crucial for the smooth running of your business. Done right these policies help your people to thrive, makes for a transparent workplace culture and adds business sustainability.

HR policies aren’t just a set of rules. They protect your employees and your company. Moreover, by establishing best practice routes for hiring and developing your people you’ll reach your business goals faster.

Which HR policies does my business need?

The answer to this question has evolved over the years. Reflecting changes in the workplace, technological advancements (for example AI), and people-focused policies.

Whilst some HR policies are required by British law, others provide a powerful framework for managing people and ensuring HR compliance. We’ll explore both types in the article below.

Promote business growth and foster a positive workplace culture with this list of HR policies.

Which HR Policies are required by UK law?

First up, lets explore the essentials which you can’t afford to skip over. Note these are the essential for HR Teams, there are other policies which are required under laws such as GDPR for other departments.

Health & Safety Policy

This is a mandatory policy under UK law as laid out under the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

From working at height to lone working, a Health & Safety (H&S) policy is fundamental for ensuring a safe working environment as well as avoiding hefty fines and reputational damage. Remember that even office jobs and remote working have H&S elements including the DSE assessment.

A H&S policy outlines the company’s commitment to H&S standards, identifies potential hazards and specifies procedures for mitigating risks including training practices. In addition, ensure you include Mental Health provision within your H&S policy. You may also want to include a suicide prevention policy within this too.

New starters are particularly susceptible to injuries. Health and safety statistics show that one-third of workplace injuries occur during an employee’s first year on the job.*

“Including a clear first aid plan in your H&S policy allows you to support your people’s safety at work and provides ways to train your staff” Sue Bradley, Co-Owner, SB Medical Training

Here’s some extra Health and Safety Tips for employers:

The role of social copying in workplace safety

Did you know you can actually use social copying techniques to create safer environments for your team? Ask us how.

How H&S policies can reduce workplace absenteeism

Workplaces with strong health and safety policies see a 27% reduction in employee absenteeism. There are also extra ways you can reduce sick leave by supporting your staff with physical symptoms, supporting employees experiencing the menopause or for mental-health related reasons. Early intervention and workplace accommodations are key. Explore more UK sick leave statistics here.

Disciplinary and Dismissal Policies

Disciplinary and dismissal policies are another mandatory policy which provides a structured approach for managing employee behaviour and performance issues.

This must comply with the Employment Rights Act 1996, ensuring that any disciplinary actions or dismissals are both fair and legally sound. Remember that your procedures may be scrutinised if your employee raises an employment claim or a grievance so these need to be iron clad.

It’s wise to get HR advice to ensure you remain compliant. An outsourced HR provider may also be able to give you extra perspectives from outside the business.

Your policy should seek to reduce the risk of legal challenges through clear rules and ensure that employees understand the consequences of misconduct, which acts as a deterrent. In the event an employment claim does arise this will also help to protect you and your company.

In 2023/24, the Employment Tribunal received 34,000 single claim receipts and disposed of 31,000 single claim cases.

Tip for developing managers

You should develop your leaders to handle difficult conversations, particularly difficult performance conversations to support team productivity and employee wellbeing.

Grievance Policy

A grievance policy is the final mandatory UK policy. This allows employees to raise concerns or complaints in a formal way.

It is essential for maintaining a positive work environment and addressing issues before they escalate.

The policy should outline the process for submitting grievances, the investigation procedures, and the steps for resolution. This transparency ensures that employees feel heard and supported.

More than one in three workers experience conflict at work at a cost of £28.5 billion per year in the UK! Including a spend of £120 million in informal resolution and early intervention, and £140 million on mediation.

It should be noted that this policy is not a substitute for taking employee relations seriously and taking extra measures to reduce workplace conflict.

Explore 6 common reasons for workplace conflict

How to reduce workplace conflict:

You can do this by ensuring your teams and leaders are aware of the biggest sources of workplace conflict. They can then reduce the risk of misunderstandings and navigate personality clashes. You can also explore team coaching options around improving communication and building trust.

You could go one step further and use psychometrics or Facet 5 assessments to help people understand each other. They can then work together to utilise their differences to tap into cognitive diversity and build an innovative culture.

15 extra HR Policies your business should consider

Below we’ve categorised 15 policies your HR team should consider. These include HR policies for start-ups, small businesses and SMEs right through to multi-national organisations.

These can be done as separate policies or integrated into larger policies such as the Health & Safety one.

Behaviour-Based Policies

Anti-Discrimination, Harassment, and Whistleblowing Policy

Anti-discrimination and harassment policies are crucial for promoting a respectful and inclusive workplace where employees don’t feel under threat.

Your people thrive best when they work in a psychologically safe environment. Accepted culture around harassment can cause things to escalate further as employees can copy others.

It’s imperative they are not discriminated against, whether this is direct or indirect discrimination (as seen in the recent updates to the Equality Act).

These HR policies should comply with the Equality Act 2010, which protects employees from discrimination based on characteristics such as age, gender, race, and disability. This act is evolving all the time so be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest HR legislation changes.

A whistleblowing policy is also vital, encouraging employees to report unethical or illegal activities without fear of retaliation.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy

Working in tandem with the Health & Safety policy, a drugs and alcohol policy helps maintain a safe and productive workplace. As well as posing a safety hazard to employees and their teammates this can affect decision-making or promote associated and dangerous law breaking such as drink driving.

It should outline the company’s stance on substance use, the procedures for testing, and the consequences of violating the policy.

As well as posing a safety hazard to employees and their teammates, this can affect decision-making or lead to associated law breaking such as drink driving.

Supporting employee wellbeing

Done right these policies can also support employees who may need help with substance abuse issues, you can use the policy to signpost to relevant support for alcohol or substance addiction.

Balancing employee trust and workplace safety

It’s important to balance safety and efficiency carefully against employee trust. If employees feel the testing processes are particularly invasive or happen at excessive frequency this could demotivate them as they feel a serious lack of trust from management or regular disruption to their day.

Be sure to use communication channels to ensure employees understand the why behind the policy and how it’s relevant to them.

Team and Leadership Development and Employee Lifecycle Policies

Recruiting and Hiring Policies

Effective recruiting and hiring policies are essential for attracting and retaining top talent.

These policies should cover the entire recruitment process, from job postings and interviews to selection and onboarding. This policy should be paired with robust hiring strategies designed to close the future skills gap.

By adhering to best practices and legal requirements, such as those outlined in the Employment Agencies Act 1973, companies can ensure a fair and efficient hiring process.

Using Hiring Policies to build strong teams and for employee branding

There are a number of ways you can stand out in this policy too, for example you may include unconscious bias coaching for new hiring managers or create inclusive practices such as checking job ads for language that could deter women or neurodivergent individuals from applying.

Reach out if you need support with hiring great people whether this is for a one-off project or for your wider hiring strategy.

Onboarding and Training Policies

Onboarding and training policies are critical for integrating new employees and providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

A well-structured onboarding process improves employee retention and productivity as well as providing opportunities for mentorship.

Training policies should also include continuous learning opportunities to help employees develop their careers and stay updated with industry trends.

An effective onboarding process boosts employee retention amongst new hires by 82% and improves the productivity of your new hire by more than 70%*.

Skills blending through new hires

Remember that new starters provide opportunities for new teammates to upskill the organisation providing new skills and fresh perspectives. What’s more this could be an opportunity for reverse mentorship for new junior positions providing them with a greater sense of purpose and buy-in to the organisation.

Development for new people managers

You should also consider a training procedure for promotions and HIPOs. For example, if someone is promoted to a new people manager ask yourself, are they getting adequate leadership development to be an effective manager? Management coaching might include training on performance management or effective feedback.

Download hiring tips to close the future skills gap

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Policies

Equal Opportunities Policy

An equal opportunities policy demonstrates the company’s commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. This may also include a commitment to closing the gender pay gap or diversity pay gap.

It should outline the measures taken to prevent discrimination and promote equality.

This policy is not only a legal requirement but also a strategic advantage, fostering a culture of respect and collaboration.

This may tie in with the hiring and recruitment policy to encourage the creation of a more diverse workplace, this includes demographic diversity, cognitive diversity and neurodiversity.

Inclusive teams are over 35% more productive. What’s more, according to research Diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time*.

Employee Benefits Policies

Employee benefits policies outline the perks and benefits offered to employees, such as health insurance, pension and retirement plans, as well as wellbeing programs.

These policies play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent, as well as enhancing employee satisfaction and well-being.

You should review new ways to provide benefits to employees regularly, whether this is including them in an annual company-wide pay rise or benefits for a superior work-life balance such as 4 day working weeks or other alternatives.

Beware the danger of false promises and clashing departmental goals

Also be wary of false promises. For example, whilst tying targets to a bonus might sound like a performance driver, when the targets are unattainable or effected by external market influence this can significantly demotivate teams.

What’s more if different bonuses are tied to different department goals this can lead to a dissonance. Here’s a manufacturing sector example:

Team A work in the factory and their bonus is tied to the quantity of material produced per day. Each customer has different material so there is a set up time to switch between customer projects.

Team B work in sales and are tasked with bringing in new business to obtain their commission bonus. Current business drives a higher quantity so Team A focus on producing material for existing customers. Team B receive complaints from new customers for slow orders on new material. This creates mistrust between departments and customers and creates a negative cycle of inefficiency.

Diversity and Inclusion Policy

A comprehensive diversity and inclusion policy goes beyond mere legal compliance. It helps to foster a rich company culture where all employees feel valued and included.

This policy should address hiring practices, workplace culture, and employee support programs. Emphasising diversity and inclusion can drive innovation and improve business performance. Deloitte reports that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.*

In addition, you may wish to include advise around accommodations for members of staff, this might take the form of a dedicated faith room for religious employees to practice their faith, air fans available for menopausal symptoms or quiet working areas for employees who are easily distracted by noise.

Corporate Social Responsibility Policies

Environmental Policy

An environmental policy demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact.

This policy should outline the steps the company takes to minimise waste, conserve resources, and promote eco-friendly practices.

How to help the environment as a small company or a large one

The extent of this policy will depend on company size and industry. For example, a small tech start-up may not have a high energy consumption but they could create initiatives such as an environmentally focused charity day off for staff each year, planting a tree for each sale or have a commitment to minimising paperwork (for meetings for example). They could also review less plastic in their packaging or look to reduce shipping for electronic components where possible.

Larger organisations linked to high energy practices such as manufacturing will want to consider carefully how they can reduce their carbon footprint and energy usage, for example by looking at renewable energy and reducing wastage.

How environmental policies can increase your profits

Environmental policies can help with business costs too when it comes to material wastage. This will also improve employee satisfaction and improve the company’s reputation; you may even win contracts with lucrative customers as a result!

Adopting an environmental policy not only benefits the planet but also enhances the company’s reputation and attracts eco-conscious consumers.

Technology-Based Policies

Data Protection Policy

With the increasing reliance on technology, data protection has become a critical concern for businesses and an essential one for your marketing department.

A data protection policy ensures that the company complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), safeguarding personal data and maintaining customer trust.

This policy should cover data collection, storage, processing, and security measures.

Some sectors need particularly robust policies for example the legal sector who often experience high levels of cyber-attacks due to the number of large tractions being made between firms and their customers.

Social Media Policy

A social media policy provides guidelines for employees’ use of social media, both professionally and personally.

It should address appropriate content, confidentiality, and the potential impact on the company’s reputation.

By establishing clear expectations, companies can mitigate risks and leverage social media as a powerful communication tool.

Tips for your social media policy

Examples may include:

1) Not mentioning customer names without permission

2) Not sharing pictures of areas which may include confidential information or give away company secrets

3) Avoiding language which damages the reputation of the business or the individual for example cyber bullying.

It should be noted that that this policy should help motivate employees and give them the freedom to advocate for the company should they wish, for example by showing them how to share content or pointing them towards official LinkedIn headers.

Many companies make the mistake of limiting social media content which can lead to higher employee turnover through restricted freedom and limits employee-generated content which can reach a wider audience by turning your employees, or customers, into advocates

You also need to be careful not to infringe rules by accident in your policy such as forcing employees to follow rules the company has no legal right to enforce.

AI Use at Work Policy

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent in the workplace, an AI use policy is essential for addressing ethical and practical considerations. Businesses who balance this correctly will improve efficiency through AI use, protect their business and ensure they don’t use the human connection with their customers.

An AI policy should cover the deployment of AI technologies, data privacy, and the impact on jobs and decision-making processes. Ensuring transparency and fairness in AI use can enhance trust and efficiency.

Again, this policy should share ways that AI can help innovative rather than just a list of restrictions. As an employer you should be aware of when and where AI is being used in your business so you can consider the pitfalls as well as staying up-to-date with potential opportunities.

AI in HR is being used more widely along with other departments including marketing. Businesses that utilise AI to its full potential and through ethical routes could see a 38% increase in productivity by 2035.*

Digital Communication Policy

A digital communication policy outlines the acceptable use of digital tools and platforms, such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing.

It should address issues like cybersecurity, confidentiality, and professional conduct.

By setting clear guidelines, companies can enhance communication efficiency while safeguarding sensitive information. This policy works in tandem with both your AI and data protection policies.

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Working Practices and Absence Policies

Annual Leave, Sickness, and Absence Policy

Managing employee absences effectively is crucial for maintaining productivity and morale.

An annual leave, sickness, and absence policy should specify the procedures for requesting leave, reporting sickness, and managing long-term absences.

Employees should also be aware of any employee benefits such as full time pay, any restrictions (such as during probation) or mental health days.

This policy ensures that employees are aware of their entitlements and responsibilities, promoting a healthy work-life balance.

You may also wish to include signposting for resources such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) paid for as an employee benefit or other resources free or paid such as CBT, marital support or financial support.

Many things effect employees outside of work which are either outside your control or your realm of direct responsibility as an employer. However, how your employees feel at work and at home will inevitably effect their performance and wellbeing at work.

You should also have a feedback system for improving the company, for example using the check-in function on a HR system/HRIS such as Hi Bob to check frequently how staff feel, or regularly 1-2-1s. Address how the working environment, employee relationships or leadership are effecting teammates to further improve the working environment.

How many days off sick are employees taking per year? Explore here

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Policy

Supporting employees during significant life events is essential for fostering loyalty and retention.

A maternity, paternity, and adoption policy should outline the leave entitlements, procedures for requesting leave, and support available to employees.

This policy should comply with relevant legislation, such as the Employment Rights Act 1996, ensuring that employees receive fair and adequate support.

Having a clear Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Policy allows staff to enjoy pivotal life events without the extra stress of trying to navigate what pay they are entitled to or planning leave.

For employee benefits you may wish to offer incentives such as higher maternity pay or extended paternity leave.

You may also want to include a return-to-work element to the policy to support mothers and new fathers who may be suffering from sleep deprivation, may need upskilling after an extended time off or may need extra workplace accommodations for example if they are breastfeeding. This will improve performance and improve employee retention.

Do you need a HR Policy Review? – Explore here

Hybrid Working Policies

The rise of remote work has necessitated the development of hybrid working policies.

These policies should address the expectations and guidelines for employees working both remotely and on-site.

Key considerations include communication, performance management, and health and safety.

By embracing hybrid working, companies can offer flexibility and attract a wider talent pool.

Explore how to create an effective hybrid working policy and download our free resource on how to assess a job role for flexible working.

How to communicate your HR policies effectively?

You can include your HR policies in your employee handbook and code of conduct. Whenever policies are reviewed you should send these digitally and where appropriate ask for a ‘read and understood’ response for your records.

How often show HR Policies be updated?

HR Policies should be reviewed annually. Designate your HR team or a knowledgeable member of your business to lead on this, you may also want to include insights from leaders within the organisation, stakeholders or seek advise from an outsourced HR provider.

You may need to revisit policies more frequently, for example if there is a new change in the law, pay close attention to the Autumn and Spring budgets and stay up to date using reputable sources.

Want to explore which of your HR policies need a review? Get in touch

Please note that the information in this blog was created based on the integrity of reputable links and Talk Staff knowledge at the time of publishing. These blogs should be used for guidance only, you should always check information further before taking action as sources may update over time. Talk Staff holds no responsibility for implementation or loss.

 

Last Updated on 3 days by Hannah Ingram