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All New Zealand businesses should have key employment policies in place for important issues like health and safety. These policies also manage dangerous issues like bullying and harassment. Generally, your company policies should detail:

  • how employees should act;
  • what the rules are; and
  • what the consequences and processes are if problems do arise. 

It is vital to have these in writing beforehand to avoid more significant problems in the future. This article will explain what employment policies actually are and how they work. It will also look at three employment policies your business should have, a: 

  1. code of conduct;
  2. health and safety policy; and
  3. policy on bullying and harassment.

What Are Employment Policies?

Policies describe expectations for employees in a particular workplace. In addition, a policy sets those expectations out formally in a medium that all employees can access and refer to. Employment ‘policies’ can also include:

  • codes;
  • guidelines;
  • procedures;
  • manuals; and
  • rules.

It is key to understand that policies extend on employment agreements by providing information on an employee’s rights and responsibilities in specific areas. Employment agreements usually do not have the detail on these different areas. Therefore, policies set out the relevant information for staff.

It is important to record policies in writing and ensure that staff can access them.

Employment policies can cover a wide range of content. Sometimes they include basically all parts of the workplace or employee’s work. Policies often provide rules for:

  • conduct;
  • health and safety;
  • bullying and harassment;
  • lateness and absence;
  • IT usage;
  • conflicts of interest and accepting gifts;
  • privacy;
  • training and development;
  • flexible working; and
  • managing performance issues.

Some of these key employment policies are summarised below.

3 Key Employment Policies

Many policies should be included by most businesses in New Zealand. However, there are three that you should think about in particular. Almost every business in New Zealand will have some form of the following.

Code of Conduct

The most common and basic policy is a code of conduct. This is a vital document for creating and cementing a positive culture at your business. Your particular code of conduct does not have to be complex. It should cover a range of general expectations for everyone in the business.

Therefore, it is usually a good idea to articulate the values the business wants to foster in leaders and team members. This helps to align conduct with your company’s:

  • values;
  • principles; and
  • mission.

Health and Safety Policy

Health and safety is extremely important in New Zealand. Consequently, recent legislation has placed requirements on businesses to protect their workers by taking all ‘reasonable, practicable steps’.

Additionally, at a high level, a health and safety policy will explain how a safe and healthy workplace for your staff will be:

  • created;
  • maintained; and 
  • monitored.

It will also outline what procedures will be run to achieve this.

Further, health and safety policies tend to be quite complicated and include other documents, like reporting procedures for hazards.

Bullying and Harassment Policy

Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, is a serious issue in New Zealand workplaces. Studies suggest that more than one in three workers experience some form of bullying or harassment each year. As a result, this causes risks to your employees’ health and safety. In addition, bullying and harassment can disrupt your workplace and reduce productivity.  

A bullying and harassment policy helps build a company culture where everyone is respected. It also clearly sets out what is acceptable in the workplace.

The policy should define the reporting process for bullying and harassment and document how your business will handle issues and seek to resolve them. Further, all bullying, harassment, and discrimination must be investigated by New Zealand law and the person affected must be supported throughout the process.

Key Takeaways

All New Zealand businesses need employment policies. In addition, employment policies are a way for your business to set out details around:

  • how employees should act;
  • what the rules are; and
  • what the consequences and processes are if problems do arise.

It is vital to have these in writing beforehand, and to build on the terms already in your employees’ agreements. Therefore, three key employment policies you should have are a:

  • code of conduct;
  • health and safety policy; and
  • bullying and harassment policy.

If you want to know more about drafting employment policies, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are policies?

Policies describe expectations for employees in a particular workplace, and set those expectations out formally. They can include a range of documents including codes, procedures and manuals.

Are policies always binding?

Yes, employees are bound by policies in most cases, so long as the policy has been clearly communicated and conveyed to the employee. If the policy conflicts with an employment agreement however, the agreement will usually take precedence.

What is a business code of conduct?

A code of conduct is a basic policy to cover a range of general expectations for everyone in the business, and how you expect employees to behave. This is usually done by aligning behavioural standards with the company’s principles, vision and mission.

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