Your Protection: Independent Policies
When employee issues aries, the first question we will ask a client is "What does your policy say about this issue?" Often the answer is "I don't have a written policy." There are many policies in an Employee Handbook, but independent policies provide clear guidelines for employees to follow and those guidelines will protect the company.
Companies develop polices to provide clear expectations for employees and is a great communication tool to inform new employees of the company's policies as well as refresh all employees as particular matters arise. Some employers compile the policies into one handbook or manual. However, in addition to a handbook, it is good to provide employees with individual policies because policies and expectations may vary among employees depending on the type and level of positions.
Below is a list of some of the policies employers should provide and have employees sign as part of their employee documentation:
Code of Ethics Policy - outlines the expected behavior that should align with the company's values, culture, and ways of doing business.
Confidentiality Agreement Policy - is ideal as an individual policy because the type of private information may vary based on the employee's job.
Conflict of Interest Policy - helps keep the business operations lawful and prevent employees from engaging in activities on behalf of the company for their personal interest.
Anti-Discrimination Policies - are good to have in place when employers may wish to use policies to prevent the possible ways that the different types of discrimination can appear in the workplace.
Compensation Policy - is best used when higher-level managers may receive a compensation package that includes an incentive plan with certain criteria, for example, meeting quarterly or annual revenue goals to earn bonus. This policy can be tailored to the type of position or program in the company.
Safety Policy - helps the employer comply with health and safety regulations in both a general and specific manner. All companies are subjected to certain guidelines regarding health and safety in the workplace, such as fire regulations.
Security Policy - helps the employer identify how to protect the company's physical and information technology (IT) assets.
Computers and Technology Policy - dictates the safe use of information technology and management of technological assets. Technology is heavily relied upon in the workplace and can also be very vulnerable. Therefore, it is important for employees to understand the type of access allowed for certain jobs and the personal use of computers and sharing information.
Media Relations Policy - not everyone can speak on behalf of the company and those who can need to have guidelines that take company image and business risks into consideration.
Internet Usage Policy - provides employees with rules and guidelines about the appropriate use of company equipment, network and Internet access.
Whistle-blower Policy - helps employers meet anti-retaliation guidelines by protecting persons who have reported unethical or illegal behavior. The policy must also include the steps to lodge a complaint.
Company policies are valuable tools to keep employers and employees on the same page, for reference, as needed, to remind employees of expectations, and to support disciplinary actions, including terminations. It is important to have these in place prior to incidents that can cause harm to employers or employees.
Company Policy in the News
In recent weeks the media has been buzzing with reports of a contracted employee violating the company's policy, causing the company to issue a public statement:
"June 11, 2013
(Updated Information Underlined)
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter."
Booz Allen Statement on Reports of Leaked Information retrieved on 6/21/13 from
From the statement, it is clear that Booz Allen had a policy in place (we would not expect less), which they used to support the past employee's termination.
All companies, regardless of size, must ensure polices are clearly written and easily accessible by the employees. Further, employees must sign each new policy to show that they have read the policies and intend to follow them. Employers must also make sure the policies are fair to both employer and employees while keeping the employees' rights and the employer's legal obligations in mind. It is important to consult with an HR professional or legal counsel to ensure your policies can be upheld, if tested.