How to Set Up Everyday Workplace Policies in your Small Business

Developing policies for everyday tasks can reduce unnecessary administration and make your business more effective. Here’s how…

How to Set Up Everyday Workplace Policies in your Small Business

How should I deal with theft within my company?

When developing a policy on theft, include who is responsible for looking after equipment. Small office equipment like stationery and stamps is most at risk of petty theft, whilst valuables such as PCs should be kept secure.

Have a detailed register of items, which should include the serial numbers and who is for responsible for each one. Only allow employees to take items out of the office that they really need to, and make sure they sign them out when they do so.

What should my business’ policy be on working together?

It pays to manage division of labour across all levels of your business; even something as seemingly trivial as who provides visitors with tea or coffee can breed resentment and undermine teamwork. Clarify everyone’s exact role to avoid situations like this.

In addition, even if you do employ a receptionist, you should tell everyone they are expected to pick up the phone after a certain time. Teach employees how to handle calls as part of your induction process.

How should I develop a policy on holidays?

How and when your employees take their holidays will be a major part of your business; and a major bone of contention if you don’t get it right.

Business owners should work out how holiday dates should be allocated. Many companies have a first-come, first-served style system on allocation of dates, which most of your employees should feel is fair. Consider whether you want to put a limit on the amount of holiday that can be taken in one go – perhaps two or three weeks.

Another key consideration is what your position will be on rolling over holidays. Will you allow employees to ‘roll over’ their unused holiday into the next year and, if so, will you impose limits on the maximum amount of days that can be rolled over? Also, determine your position on bank holidays, will they form part of your employees’ main holiday entitlement or not and where do you stand on unpaid leave.

Generally, you should require that employees seek permission to take unpaid time off.

How should I develop a policy on lateness and absence?

How you deal with late, sick and absent employees is an area that will benefit from a smart policy.

In regards to employee lateness, it’s worth enforcing a rule that employees should inform the company in advance if they are going to be late and then make persistent lateness a disciplinary offence.

Employee absence due to sickness should be treated with consideration as you can’t stop employees from staying home if they are ill, but you can monitor absences and deal with employees taking an unacceptable amount of sick leave.

With maternity and paternity leave there is not a lot of room for manoeuvre here as you must comply with the law on this. Employees also have an entitlement to additional, unpaid, parental leave. For more information, read’s shared parental leave advice piece here.

Similar rules go for dependent care leave as all employees have an entitlement to take ‘reasonable’ time off to deal with emergencies affecting people they look after, such as children and infirm parents.

Other absences you may need to deal with could include domestic problems, try to be compassionate here, and leaving for jury service – it is illegal to punish or dismiss employees for taking jury service but you’re not obliged to pay them, although many companies do.

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