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What is a workplace policy?

An employer is entitled to give reasonable directions to their employees. Workplace policies provide instructions to employers on how to behave in the workplace but responsibility rests with both the employee and employer to ensure that such policies are complied with.

What type of workplace policies do I need? 

Workplace policies can provide reasonable directions to employees in a number of areas including: 

  • WHS and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • drugs and alcohol 
  • workplace relationships – e.g. policies on bullying, harassment and discrimination 
  • use of company equipment – e.g. company cars and mobile phones. 

Workplace polices have recently taken on a greater role within employment contracts, such that they are often included within the contract. As such, in certain circumstances, a breach of a workplace policy will result in a breach of the employment contract. 

Implementing policies – what you need to know 

  • Having a workplace policy in place does not automatically mean you have complied with any other legal or contractual obligations you may owe your employees (including consultation obligations under an Award). 
  • You should ensure that you are realistically able to comply with any policy you implement – failure by the employer to comply with any workplace policies can have serious consequences. 
  • When drafting your policies you should consider:
    • whether you want those policy documents to form part of the employment contract, or 
    • whether you simply want them to be utilised by employees as a tool or guideline. 
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