What is Workplace Policy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
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A workplace policy is a formal policy which is instituted by the management or owners of a business. By convention, workplace policies are clearly written up in employee handbooks or notices, and employees may be required to sign slips indicating that they have received the policy and they understand it. Establishing workplace policies is important for a business of any size, as it sets clear boundaries, protecting both employees and employers.

A variety of topics can be covered by a workplace policy, and such policies are often collected in a handbook for the convenience of employees. Things like rate of pay, required dress or uniform, and workplace demeanor are often addressed in workplace policies, along with discrimination, sexual harassment, drug use, and abuse in the workplace. A well written policy will clearly indicates the stance of the business on a particular issue, and it will indicate the consequences of a policy violation.

An employee handbook may also provide procedural information so that employees perform tasks properly. For example, a business may have a workplace policy on handling sensitive data and clients, ensuring that all clients are treated equally. A workplace may also have policies on using equipment such as copiers, requesting or ordering supplies, and dealing with other administrative errata. Especially in a big business, lack of an organized procedures can turn basic tasks into nightmares, especially for administrative assistants and support staff.


The consequences for violating a workplace policy vary, depending on the policy. For example, a dress code violation might result in an employee being sent home to change, while a charge of sexual harassment would be accompanied with legal repercussions such as potential termination of employment. By clearly spelling out these consequences, an employer can fairly and equally enforce violations, and protect the company from accusations of unlawful termination.

Employees should read policy handbooks carefully. As a general rule, most workplace policies are quite routine and they follow common sense and courtesy guidelines which all adults should already be aware of. Sometimes, however, there may be sneaky and very important information about things like rates of pay, particulars of dress code, and other issues; make sure that you are familiar with your employee handbook, and make sure to keep a copy, along with copies of any additions or changes to workplace policy. By convention, such a handbook will also include a section on disputes and arbitration, and it will list the steps that employees need to take to address grievances. Be sure to follow those steps to ensure that your complaints are handled fairly.


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Post 2

@mdybas - I believe that the owner is entitled to change company policy if there was no set timeline on the original documents you signed.

While contracts cover holidays, as well as vacation time, and are protected by law for the length of time you have signed it for, company polices are a more fluid matter.

As the company is small you may be able to voice your concerns with the doctor in charge, but it is in his right to change how his company is run. The only real action you have as an employee if the new policy really bothers you is to not resign and look for another place to work for.

Post 1

I have been with my company (a small 3 employee company) for almost 8 years and the Doctor (owner)is wanting to change policy. We had an employee handbook that I had signed when I first started working there but we no longer use that service and he has not created a new employee manual. Does the original manual still apply or can he do anything he wants? i.e. take away holidays and vacation time? Thanks for your answer to this.

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