2.1.1 Policies and Procedures

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2.1.1 Policies and Procedures

Policies are made by organisations to ensure that members and stakeholders act responsibly and make rational and well-informed decisions. These help an organisation remain consistent in its approach to decision-making and problem-solving across the organisation’s locations (if applicable). For staff members and stakeholders to understand their responsibilities in the organisation, it is crucial that policies and procedures are both adopted and clearly communicated to everyone. 

On the other hand, procedures are meant to assist employees in implementing policies. If policies are rules that tell you what ought to be done, procedures are the logical steps that tell you how you ought to enact or implement these policies.

Recruitment and Induction

The policies and procedures in place for recruiting and inducting employees are both internal and external in nature. There are laws in place to ensure that employees are properly sourced and treated, and there are also company-based policies that delve into the specifics of your hiring processes. 

Your recruitment and induction policies and procedures should be clear and concisely written. This will serve as your basis for the procedures and strategies you have in your operational plan. Although there is no clear-cut formula for writing your policies and procedures, some things you may want to check and ensure the presence of in your policies include: 

  • Purpose and Scope

Your policies must clearly identify your purpose for hiring employees. This must be aligned with your vision, mission, and goals. Moreover, the scope of your recruitment and induction must be established to ensure that all the subsequent efforts you make remain relevant and necessary. Having a clear and well-written policy that establishes both purpose and scope will enable you to have procedures that are also clear, well-written and relevant.

  • Guidelines 

Policies must define the guidelines that must be kept in mind as you recruit and induct your employees. These will serve as the foundation for your procedures. The guidelines should cover your considerations for hiring a new employee, an overview of your process for acquiring and training the employee, and the general flow of approval for your processes. Your subsequent procedures should likewise be detailed versions of your policies that delve into the details of your processes.

  • Non-bias and Merit

In relation to your selection and hiring guidelines, you must ensure that the guidelines you put in place are fair and unbiased. You should not exclude otherwise viable candidates on the basis of sex, gender, race, religion, etc. You should instead focus on the merit of your candidates and seek out the right candidates instead of merely trying to fill a position.

Workplace Harassment, Victimisation, and Bullying

In this regard, a discussion on workplace harassment, victimisation, and bullying is in order. Workplace harassment, victimisation, and bullying refer to the abuses or misuses of power which are characterised by aggressive behaviour or actions that humiliate, intimidate, and/or undermine an individual or group. Such actions may cause emotional damage, reduce morale, and ultimately cause the loss of trained and talented employees. They are unacceptable and must not to be tolerated under any circumstances.

  • Federal and state anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws are in place to protect you from harassment and victimisation, including those due to: 
    • Age
    • Breastfeeding or pregnancy status
    • Being a union member (or not)
    • Career status
    • Disability or impairment
    • Gender and gender identity
    • Marital status
    • Sexual activity
    • Sexual orientation
    • Physical features (excluding ‘accessories’ like tattoos or piercing)
    • Political activity or belief
    • Race
    • Religious belief

Harassment is behaviour that a person does not want or reciprocate. More specifically, it refers to behaviour towards an individual or a group of individuals, that may or may not be based on any of the above attributes. It is repeated behaviour that manifests less favourable treatment towards a person and is considered both unreasonable and inappropriate in the workplace. It degrades, embarrasses, or scares the victim under circumstances wherein a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the one being targeted would be humiliated, offended, or intimidated by their conduct.

Workplace harassment often involves a misuse of power. It may occur when an authoritative figure intentionally undermines or destroys the confidence and self- esteem of an individual or group. Moreover, it can also occur if someone is working in a ‘hostile’ or intimidating environment. 

  • Harassment may be either subtle or overt. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: 
    • Abusive and offensive language, shouting
    • Allocation of humiliating or demeaning tasks
    • Constant unreasonable criticism regarding work or performance (often about petty or insignificant matters)
    • Deliberate alienation, exclusion, or isolation of a staff member
    • Electronic harassment (e.g. through email or SMS)
    • Hazing or bastardisation (e.g. harmful or humiliating initiation rituals)
    • Inappropriate comments about personal appearance
    • Sabotaging a person’s work 
    • Sarcasm or ridicule 
    • Setting impossible deadlines with unrealistic expectations of one’s work 
    • Spreading gossip or false and malicious rumours, intending to harm a person 
    • Threatening gestures or actual violence 
  • Confidentiality

It is important to protect the identities and information of your potential and new hires throughout the process. Even if some applicants end up not being able to make the cut, you must respect and protect their privacy. Your policies should note this and ensure that no information is leaked unnecessarily. Moreover, your processes themselves ought to be secured and kept private. Digital security, which refers to the ways you ensure that your data and systems are protected from any attacks, intrusions or unauthorized access at all times, must be a priority concern. You must be fully equipped with the tools and knowledge that will enable you to safeguard your information from any external threats.

Privacy Act 1988 

In this regard, the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) merits discussion. The Privacy Act is an Australian law that regulates the handling of personal information on individuals. This involves the collection, storage, use, and disclosure of personal information as well as the access to and correction of this information. Moreover, the Privacy Act includes: 

  • 13 Australian privacy principles which would apply to the handling of personal information by most Australian and Norfolk Island Government agencies along with some private sector organisations; and 
  • Credit reporting provisions which apply to the handling of credit-related personal information which credit providers are allowed to disclose to credit reporting bodies for inclusion on individuals’ credit reports. 

Additionally, the Privacy Act:

  • Regulates the collection, storage, disclosure, security, use and disposal of individuals’ tax file numbers;
  • Permits the handling of health information for the purpose of health and medical research in certain circumstances when researchers cannot seek individuals’ consent;
  • Allows the Information Commissioner to approve and register enforceable app codes developed by an app code developer or the Information Commissioner directly; 
  • Permits a small business operator, who would otherwise not be subject to the Australian privacy principles (apps) and any relevant privacy code, to opt-in to being covered by the apps and any relevant app code; and 

Allows for privacy regulations to be made. 

Further Reading

For more information on the Privacy Act, visit the site below. The Privacy Act

Employment Conditions

As has been previously mentioned, there are both internal and external considerations for recruitment and induction policies and procedures. In terms of external considerations, there is a nationwide system in place that serves to ensure that employees are fairly treated by their employers from start to end. This system includes national standards for all employees, legislation and regulations (e.g. occupational health and safety, pension and payments), and organisations (e.g. Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia. Key points to consider regarding your employment conditions include:

  • Forms of employment

There are different forms of employment with varying levels of flexibility and stability. The form of employment a person would opt for would be based on what they and their employer would mutually require. Some common forms of employment include full-time, part-time, and contract workers.

  • Employment standards

By law, all employees in Australia are entitled to terms and conditions that are outlined by the national employment standards. These include entitlements like weekly working hours, leaves and requests pertaining to working arrangements.

  • Occupational health and safety system

All organisations are required to ensure a safe workplace that meets national requirements. Moreover, state and territory laws are in place to further delve into occupational health and safety concerns. Part of your obligation to your new employees, therefore, is ensuring work health safety and protective equipment as necessary.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act)

In this regard, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act merits discussion. The WHS Act is a piece of legislation designed to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. It also helps reduce the number of workplace injuries by giving all staff members responsibilities. Everyone (i.e. employers, self-employed people, those in control of work premises, machinery and substances, designers, manufacturers, suppliers and workers) has an obligation to workplace health, safety and welfare. 

Though the details vary from state to state, Australian WHS legislation is generally aimed at: 

  • Providing and maintaining a safe working environment and secure systems of work
  • Providing employees with information on health, safety and welfare in the workplace.

Likewise, employees also have responsibilities under health and safety laws. These include: 

  • Following instructions and rules in the workplace; and
  • Working and behaving in ways that are safe and do not risk the health and safety of anyone in the workplace. 

Should you fail to comply, you can be disciplined by your employer or be prosecuted under the health and safety law within your state or territory.

Further Reading

Access the WHS Act 2011 (Queensland) through the following link: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/current/act-2011-018

  • Compensation and taxes

Both national and state and territory laws are in place to govern employees’ compensation. In your recruitment and hiring processes, you are especially concerned about your obligation to your new staff members. This would include taxes and payroll.