8 Rules That Are No Longer Appropriate (Or Legal!) In Your HR Policy

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Your relationship with your employees is based on trust and mutual respect. When you respect them and give them the freedom to work, they will perform well. There are a number of ways to establish a great working relationship. As an employer, you should keep a regular dialogue with workers and anticipate their needs. You should allow them the room to grow and respect their personal lives. It’s also good practice to provide incentives, bonuses and a good wage.

 

However, these tactics ought to be balanced with a strong set of guidelines. Within your HR policy, it’s a good idea to set out a list of policies and procedures. This is good for both you and employees. They know where they stand and what the rules are. At the same time, you insert a little discipline and structure. Having said that, we have seen many companies that still operate Draconian rules. They involve arbitrary figures and, in some cases they’re actually illegal. Today we’re going to help bring you up to date in the world of HR. It’s time to update your SOP software and get rid of any inappropriate and illegal rules.

 

Ruling with an iron fist is often counter-productive in business. The relationship you are aiming for is mutual respect. Avoid any policies that will suffocate or diminish your employees. The following policies are no longer appropriate or lawful and should be avoided. We’ve included some alternatives to help re-word your policies.

 

  1. A zero-tolerance on criminal history

 

We are seeing so many companies clinging to this policy in their HR papers. It was a good way to protect yourself and your employees. However, new laws mean you can no longer disregard a candidate on criminal record alone. Instead, you should assess whether the nature of the crime impacts the job role. You should also take any rehabilitation and character accounts into consideration. The biggest problem here is fraud. The majority of business fraud cases come from within the company. A good screening process is sensible, but a zero tolerance is unlawful.

 

  1. A 15 strike rule on absences

 

It doesn’t have to be 15 strikes. Any rule that places an arbitrary ruling on absences is no longer appropriate. We understand that many employees will take unnecessary ‘sick days’ and absences. However, you must also respect the personal lives of your employees. All employees are entitled to personal days during difficult times. They are also entitled to days off when health problems occur. Some HR policies build in a certain allowance of sick days, which is good way to deal with this. When an employee goes over this allowance, you can look into the reasons and take any action necessary.

 

  1. Prohibiting wage discussions

 

Every employee in your company deserves to feel valued for the work and contribution to the business. It’s your responsibility to do this in a personal way. You ought to work closely with them and build the communication on a personal level. You should pay them a respectable wage for their work and an incentives package if appropriate. If they’re happy, that’s what matters. Make sure they understand the reasons behind their wage and that they agree. You cannot prohibit workers discussing wages as it is a core part of working unions. They have the right to come together and demand better pay if the circumstances lead to it.

 

  1. No pay for unauthorised overtime

 

Almost every worker will go above and beyond the call of duty now and then. They’ll stay late and power through last minute presentations. This is great and you should respect and reward those employees. They are obviously dedicated to building a better company. However, we understand it can often get out of hand. We’ve witnessed employees slacking off during the day knowing they can make an extra buck in overtime. Again, this all comes down to communicating with your employees. Understand when overtime is necessary. If they are working too much overtime, take the time to figure out why and address that. Are they overworked? Or are they simply mismanaging their time?

 

  1. ‘English only’

 

This is a controversial policy and one that has lead companies to court. There are still some businesses building this into their HR policies. It essentially requires all workers to speak English while at the workplace. With the increased numbers of migrant workers in certain countries, this became commonplace. However, this is no longer lawful according to the EEOC. We suggest a flexible approach on this one. When dealing with customers, a professional demeanor is required. It may be appropriate to ask multilingual employees to speak English in front of customers, for example.

 

  1. If company property is taken, employees will receive no pay

 

There should be a zero tolerance policy on taking company equipment. However, you cannot withhold pay as a punishment. They may be terminated or disciplined, but it is against the law to withhold wages. Anyone who’s worked in an office has probably raided the stationary cupboard every now and then! It’s important for workers to understand that this is unacceptable, from the smallest level. But, a simple, rational and proportionate deterrent should be secured in place.

 

  1. Safety incentive programmes

 

Incentives are a proven method of increasing work performance. However, this is not appropriate when it comes to safety. In a factory situation, many companies implemented these type of schemes. They would offer a bonus after a certain number of days without injury. It actually lead to a culture of employees failing to report hazards because they wanted the bonuses! Instead, you can reward employees for identifying and taking action against hazards. This helps instil a culture of safety in the company.

 

  1. Taking action against employees drinking or smoking while off duty

 

For a while, many companies operated a zero tolerance alcohol and smoking policy. This would be withheld even outside the confines of the workplace. This is, of course, illegal now. Employers may restrict the use of alcohol or smoking on company property. They may also discipline those for drinking while representing the company. But drinking and smoking on their own time is not the preserve of the business. Unless the habit is affecting their job performance.


Laws and personal behaviour change quickly. It’s important that your HR policies change in order to reflect that. Make sure your policies aren’t outdated. Follow the guidelines in this post and bring your policy in line with the law!

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