Human resources policies that govern employment practices, working conditions and workplace processes are essential, regardless of the number of workers the company employs. Policies that HR administers provide guidelines and structure to the organization and often are relied on to defend employment decisions, such as terminations. Workplace policies also are essential because they communicate performance expectations and provide recognition for employees who meet the company’s expectations.
HR policies define workplace functionality, not HR strategic management. When an HR leader or executive leadership team creates a conceptual framework, the steps to implement that strategy are functions for which HR is responsible. Workplace policies reflect those functional activities, not HR strategy. For example, an HR strategic goal might be to improve employee retention. Functional steps for achieving higher retention rates include recruitment and selection processes, such as equal employment opportunity policies.
Recruitment and selection methods are subject to equal employment opportunity policies and compliance with federal and state laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Employee retention practices also are subject to laws that prohibit discriminatory practices in hiring, training, promoting and firing employees. The company’s EEO policy generally becomes part of the organization’s business principles and a written statement affirming the company’s commitment to EEO is contained in the employee handbook and posted throughout common areas in the workplace.
A drug-free workplace policy has become the standard for ensuring the safety of the company’s employees, customers and suppliers. The use of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited because impairment can cause workplace accidents and endanger the well-being of the employee and his co-workers. In addition, many employers conduct pre-employment drug screening to eliminate candidates who may be susceptible to using illegal substances. Typically, when a workplace accident occurs, HR reviews the circumstances and determines whether to require that the employee take a drug test. Many drug-free policies consider refusal to submit to a drug test the basis for immediate termination.
Paid Time Off
Policies on how employees accrue vacation and sick time are essential to maintaining accountability for attendance and for benefits administration, such as leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act provisions. HR policies generally contain the process for using paid time off, whether employees can donate leave to co-workers for medical or urgent personal reasons, and the conditions upon which employers pay employees for unused time. There are no federal or state laws that require employers to provide vacation, sick time or holidays; therefore, the HR policies are a matter of agreement between the employer and employee.
HR policies concerning flexible work schedules and telecommuting vary from one company to another, depending on the type of work, employee tenure and technology available for modifying working conditions. In addition, HR works with department managers to determine whether flexible scheduling meets their staffing needs and how to sustain or increase productivity by providing alternative work arrangements for employees. Workplace flexibility policies also may become a part of the recruitment and selection process when they’re used to attract qualified applicants or recruit outside the normal commuting distance.