What are the Most Common Human Resources Policies?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Human resources policies are a set of practices and procures used to manage interactions between the employer and employee. In general, human resources is primarily focused on employee management, which includes recruitment, hiring, managing, and termination. All companies have human resources policies, as they are typically required by law. In the United States, the Labor Standards Act provides a list of required procedures for all employers. These procedures cover all the major life events for an employee and are mandatory.

There are four generic areas of human resources policies: recruitment, employment standards, discipline, and termination. The Labor Standards Act provides a basic framework, on which all human resource policies are built. The purpose of human resources policy is to clearly communicate the company’s internal procedures, requirements, and consequences. It is worth noting that almost half of all civil lawsuits are a result of a dispute surrounding human resources issues.

In recruitment, there are four common human resources policies. When a position is vacant, the length of time applications will be accepted and who can apply is provided in policy. Prioritization of applicants and the granting of preferential status during the application process are common in both union and non-union environments. Non-discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, and gender is standard. Checking of references as part of a condition of employment is also standard.


Employment standards include fundamental items, such as the hours of work without a break, length of breaks, and maximum allowable shift. The Labor Standards Act is focused primarily on this aspect of human resources. Included in this section are minimum rates of pay, maximum number of hours of work within a specific time frame, rates of pay for overtime, and holiday pay.

Common policies related to discipline includes guidelines for interaction between supervisor and employee when discussing a discipline matter. Written documentation of all such meetings is standard, as is the length of time that a warning letter can remain in the employees file. Methods for employees to appeal discipline decisions, opportunities for mediation, and other provisions are typically provided in the policy.

The requirements for termination is also a very common type of policy, including provisions for retirement, voluntary termination, layoffs, and termination for cause. The section surrounding layoffs during slow periods, lead time requirements, call back notices, and vacation remaining upon termination must all be documented. Very few people take the time to read the human resources policies when they are hired, but it is always a good idea.


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