Workplace policies and procedures assist a company in establishing a healthy and consistent workplace culture. Furthermore, they can offer succinct answers to employee questions and concerns that are regular occurrences within any employment relationship.
However, written workplace policies and procedures are also often front and centre during various employment litigation matters. Conversely, the lack of such policies is just as noteworthy during litigation. This includes cases involving contractual disputes, human rights claims, occupational health and safety prosecutions, and much more. Unfortunately, companies regularly do not understand the importance of such policies until it is too late.
Short of not having any at all, one of the largest legal pitfalls faced by employers is not obtaining the appropriate legal guidance in creating and subsequently drafting their policies or procedures. Furthermore, employers often assume that their written policies naturally integrate into employment contracts and that they offer blanket protection against breaches of employment legislation like the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Although they do not offer immunity form liability, properly drafted employment policies can provide substantial protections to employers from a multitude of liability points, such as complex wrongful dismissal claims. In addition to proper drafting, proper implementation is crucial. Policies and procedures are only as good as the steps a company takes to ensure their employees both understand and comply with them. This is where the advice of qualified counsel is important.
Additionally, policies and procedures should be tailored to the specific industry in which a company operates. Many companies operate with universal template policies that often do not function appropriately in their industry. For example, policies and procedures for a construction company should address additional occupational health and safety issues as compared to policies created for an accounting firm. However, said accounting firm may require nuanced privacy policies that the former construction company does not.
We provide strategic advice and guidance to employers who are looking to implement, draft, or update their policies and procedures. This includes assisting organizations with policies covering a vast range of issues from vacation, sick leave, privacy, and workplace violence, to dress codes, and alcohol and drug use policies. We will work with clients to ensure that their policies are clear, compliant and reflect the voice and tone that they wish to convey.
Do not hesitate to reach out to our Employment Law group with any questions you may have. We would be pleased to assist you.