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Company Policy: Required Company Policies vs Recommended Policies

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What is the purpose of company policies and procedures?

Company policies serve many different purposes for both the employer and the employee. Employers typically combine all of their policies into an employee handbook, where employees have access to review policies at any time. Company policies may:  

  • Serve as an orientation tool for new employees- When hiring new employees, you should use the employee handbook to guide the employee through the procedures of the company.
  • Set expectations for employees- Employers can go over employee expectations while on the job and what the company rules look like. These policies may also address what conduct is not allowed in the workplace. Employees may also find who they should report issues to and how to report these issues. 
  • Serve as a useful tool for HR- Employers can use this employee handbook for performance reviews, terminations, and disciplinary action. 
  • Showcase the benefits the employer provides- This is a great opportunity for employers to showcase what benefits they offer and give the employee an understanding of the holidays, vacation/PTO, or other leaves. 
  • Minimize employer liability- Employers can minimize their liability by including required policies on the State and Federal levels. 

How to create company policies and procedures:

Bizhaven’s HR Business Partners work closely with employers to tailor their policies to their company as well as their industry.  Employers often make the mistake of downloading generic policies off the internet without implementing the policies within the company. We do not recommend downloading policy templates off the internet because the policy should be based on the company’s practices. Company policies should be reviewed by an employment attorney to ensure they are compliant with State and Federal law. 

Which company policies are required in California?

While the law in California does not require businesses to create or distribute employee handbooks, the law does require every business to memorialize certain workplace policies in writing depends upon the company’s size.

The following company policies, dependent on your company’s size, are required to be included in the employee handbook for businesses in the state of California. They include:

  • Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation Prevention Policies- This policy should address what actions are prohibited from the workplace and to who the employee should report these issues.
  • Paid Sick Leave- Paid Sick Leave is required by the state and should be addressed in the handbook, this gives employees a strong understanding of how much time they are allowed and what they may use it for.
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA)- For employers with 5 or more employees, a CFRA policy will be required to discuss what the leave covers for employees.
  • At-Will Employment- Addressing that the employee or employer can terminate the relationship at any time without notice. 
  • Meal and Rest Periods- This policy regulates meal and rest periods for non-exempt employees.
  1. Social Media and Electronics- A social media and electronics policy will set forth your expectations for what employees can and cannot post regarding the company. 

If employees have questions on the above policies in their organization, they should bring their concerns to HR or management. Management should be trained on these company policies to enforce policies are being implemented throughout the organization.

Which policies are recommended for the workplace?

Bizhaven recommends implementing these policies:

  1. Open Door Policy- To encourage open communication within the business. 
  2. Cell Phone Policy- This policy can help limit the number of personal phone calls in the business.
  3. Reasonable Suspicion Testing Policy- This provides employers the opportunity to send an employee out for drug testing if they are on the job with bloodshot eyes, slurring their words, or stumbling. 
  4. PTO/Vacation- Employers should showcase these benefits with a policy determining how much time off the employee is allowed. 
  5. Performance Evaluations- Formal performance reviews are not required by law but highly recommended. This policy gives employees the chance to understand what they are evaluated on and how often. 
  6. Dress Code- A company’s dress code policy can set expectations for how employees should present themselves in the workplace. This policy may also address disciplinary action for showing up to work without proper clothing. 

Employee Sick Leave and Vacation Policies: 

Now let’s talk about what goes into an employee’s sick and vacation policy. The first piece you will want to include in the policy is the amount of time the employee will be receiving every year for sick or vacation time. Then, you are going to want to let the employee know if there are any limiting factors to when they can take that time. For example, some companies do limit an employee from taking sick or vacation time until they have worked for 90 days.

If you want to limit the time as an employer, then you should let them know in your policy. You will also want to communicate in your sick and vacation policy how and when that employee should request time off for being sick or for wanting a vacation. Let the employee know how much advance notice you are looking for, and the method on how they should submit their request to you.

Finally, in California, there is a requirement to give employees at minimum 3 days or 24 hours of sick time. Employers should ensure that they are complying with state laws regarding sick time. If you have an employee in a different state than the company, it is important to check on the sick laws in that state.

Can an employer change their company’s policies without notice to an employee?

Yes, employers may make changes to company policies at any time. Although, if you are making changes to policies that employees have already acknowledged, we recommend having all employees review the new policy and sign that they received and understand the policy. It is also recommended that employees are trained on these new policies and any edits that have been made. Having a “right to revise” policy lets employees know that policies may change at any time.  Changes to policies typically happen at the beginning of each year or as business needs change. 

How can a company’s policies benefit employees and the business?

Company policies will give employees information about the business, how the business operates and what they offer their employees. These policies can provide employees transparency within the business. Employees can refer back to the handbook to review the benefits they are provided. These policies can also guide employees in the process of reporting.   

If you have more questions about what should be included in your policies, please contact Bizhaven at [email protected] or your designated HR Business Partner. 

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