3 Key Employment Policies Every New Zealand Business Needs

Aug 17, 2022 9:25:06 AM

All New Zealand businesses should have employment policies to manage important issues like health and safety and bullying and harassment. They should include how employees should act, what the rules are, and what the consequences and processes are if problems do arise.

Having policies in place helps 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, including a:

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

What Are Employment Policies?

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

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

Policies extend employment agreements by providing relevant information on an employee’s rights and responsibilities in specific areas.

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

As well as providing staff with access to policies, we recommend ensuring your employees are familiar with them. You can achieve this by holding inductions, ongoing training sessions and related assessments.

Employment policies can cover a wide range of content, providing 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

There are three crucial policies that every New Zealand business should have.

1. Code of Conduct
The most common and basic policy is a code of conduct. This is vital for creating and cementing a positive culture at your business. Your code of conduct does not have to be complex and should set general expectations for everyone in the business.

Therefore, it is 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.

2. Health and Safety Policy
Health and safety are 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.

3. Bullying and Harassment Policy
Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, are serious issues 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. The person affected must also have support throughout the process.

Key Takeaways

All New Zealand businesses need employment policies. They 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.

Having these policies in writing is vital, as they 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.

With thanks to law firm LegalVision for their valuable insights. Visit LegalVision NZ.

Written by Gerardus Elwell, Senior Associate at LegalVision.