What Workplace Policies Do I Need For My Business?

Last updated: 22 June 2024

What Workplace Policies Do I Need For My Business? – As your business grows, what used to be common sense might need to be formalised in a Workplace Policy statement. These let your employees know what is expected from them in the workplace and ensure everyone is “on the same page” and treated equally.

This legal guide covers four types of workplace policies:

  • Workplace Conduct: Guidelines to ensure professionalism and respect in all interactions.
  • Equality and Fairness: Workplace policies to guarantee an inclusive, diverse, non-discriminatory work environment.
  • Health and Safety: Measures to maintain a safe and healthy workspace for all employees.
  • Technology Use: Rules governing the responsible use of technology and maintaining digital professionalism.

If you need help drafting any Workplace Policy statement, contact Legal123.

TLDR: Quick Summary of this Legal Guide

  • Dress Code and Hygiene Policies: These outline appropriate workplace attire and hygiene practices, supporting a professional and clean work environment. Violations can be more tactfully addressed with employees when you have a clear policy.
  • Behaviour Policies: Drugs and Alcohol, Harassment and Bullying, and Mobile Phone Use policies regulate workplace conduct, promoting a safe, respectful, and focused work setting.
  • Flexible Work and Tech Policies: Remote Work and BYOD policies provide guidelines for using personal devices for work and managing remote work, balancing productivity, flexibility, health and safety and online security.
  • Equal Opportunity and Grievance Policies: These emphasise fairness, diversity, and employee rights while providing a fair and agreed process to address workplace complaints and grievances.
  • Health and Safety Policies: The WHS, First Aid, and Cyber Security policies ensure a safe work environment, readiness for emergencies, and protection of digital assets from cyber threats.
  • Social Media Policies: These mitigate reputational risks for your business and guide online conduct related to work.

Click on any of the questions below to jump to that section of this legal guide.

Workplace Policies covered in this guide

If you still have a question after reading this legal guide, get in touch, as we’d love to keep adding your questions to this comprehensive guide.

Dress Code Policy

A Dress Code Policy outlines the framework for employee clothing choices to promote a productive and respectful office environment. In the more ‘flexible’ office environment, employers offer more ‘relaxed’ options even for meetings, and some employees may take the ‘relaxed’ description too literally. A Dress Code Policy ensures everyone is on the same page.

Can you have a dress code at work?

Yes, employers in Australia can set a dress code, provided it’s reasonable, job-related, and non-discriminatory.

What is an example of a Dress Code Policy for employees?

Here’s a basic Dress Code Policy example: “Employees are expected to wear clean, business casual attire Monday to Thursday, with casual dress on Fridays. Offensive symbols or images are prohibited.” It is also helpful to give an example of what may be considered ‘business casual attire’.

How do you address an employee who is not following the dress code?

Address dress code violations privately and professionally, outline the Policy, and listen to the employee’s explanation. Ensure you document the discussion, as continued non-compliance may lead to more serious disciplinary measures.

A Dress Code Policy is the workplace’s style requirement guide, ensuring we’re not inappropriately dressed for work meetings as if heading to a music festival. Keep the attire suitable for work. That means no band T-shirts, sadly!

Drugs and Alcohol Policy

A Drug and Alcohol Policy prohibits drug and alcohol use and misuse within the workplace to maintain health, safety and productivity.

What is an example of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

Here’s an example of a basic Drug and Alcohol Policy: “Our organisation prohibits non-prescription drug use and alcohol on our premises and during work hours. Violations may lead to disciplinary action, including termination.”

Can an employer ask what medication an employee is taking?

Employers generally can only enquire about an employee’s medication if it relates to job safety or performance.

How do you deal with an employee who comes to work drunk?

If a worker shows up to work under the influence of alcohol, keep them and others safe by taking them away from any group environment and all equipment. Talk to them privately, and send them home if you believe they’re not okay. Write down what happened and think about giving them a warning or punishment according to the company’s workplace policies and procedures.

Implementing a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Policy at work is essential. It guarantees safety, productivity, and employee welfare while ensuring adherence to legal norms and fostering a positive work environment.

Harassment and Bullying Policy

A Harassment and Bullying Policy helps your company stop bad behaviour and helps keep everyone safe and respected. You must address bullying or harassment immediately if any staff complains or you believe this is occurring.

What are examples of harassment?

Harassment can involve offensive jokes, slurs, physical threats, insults, inappropriate behaviour or interference with work performance. Harassment may or may not be based on a person’s race, gender, LGBTQ sexual orientation or physical attributes.

What can employers do to prevent harassment in the workplace?

Employers can prevent harassment by creating a comprehensive Anti-Harassment Policy, offering regular training, encouraging incident reporting, and addressing allegations promptly and fairly.

How do you deal with allegations of harassment?

Allegations of harassment should be promptly investigated, maintaining confidentiality and impartiality. If proven, disciplinary action should be taken in line with company policy.

What is included in an Anti-Bullying Policy?

An Anti-Bullying Policy defines bullying, lists examples, outlines the consequences and provides a process for reporting and handling incidents. It encourages a positive work culture.

As a business owner, proactively implementing and enforcing this Policy promotes productivity and fortifies your reputation as a leader who values and protects the well-being of each team member.

Remote Work Policy

A Remote Work Policy provides guidelines for employees who work from a location other than the traditional office, ensuring clarity on work expectations and processes.

image of workplace policies and percentage of workers who would like a remote work policy
Source: “Taking the Pulse of the Nation” survey by Roy Morgan and Melbourne Institute, July 2022

What are the pros and cons of working remotely?

Pros of remote work include increased flexibility, improved work-life balance, less time commuting, and potentially higher productivity. Cons may consist of feelings of isolation, difficulties in communication, blurring of work-life boundaries, and challenges in team building.

How do you make remote workers accountable?

Remote workers can be made accountable through clear communication of expectations, setting measurable goals, regular check-ins and updates, and utilising project management tools.

Should you have a Remote Work Policy?

Yes, a Remote Work Policy is crucial to set clear expectations, manage accountability, ensure consistent communication, and address legal considerations such as your employees’ workspace and health and safety requirements.

What should be included in a Remote Working Policy?

A Remote Working Policy should include details on which roles/who may be permitted to work remotely, work hours, communication standards, training, performance expectations, equipment to be provided, support, data security guidelines, and procedures for handling issues that arise during remote work, to name a few.

Embracing remote work is only for some businesses. It can be like trading traffic jams for Wi-Fi glitches, office drama for pet video bombs, and water-cooler chats for microwave versus kettle tea debates. Who knew business could be so cozy and cost-effective? With a water-tight Remote Work Policy, you can avoid issues and achieve that!

Equal Opportunity Policy

An Equal Opportunity Policy fosters fair and non-discriminatory treatment of employees, regardless of personal attributes.

What is the meaning of equal opportunity in the workplace?

Equal opportunity means all employees are treated fairly and without discrimination, with equal access to opportunities.

What are the equal opportunity laws in Australia?

Australia’s equal opportunity laws include the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Age Discrimination Act 2004, and the recently passed Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023.

What is an example of an equal opportunity statement?

Here’s an example of an introductory equal opportunity statement: “Our company is committed to inclusivity and respect, ensuring fair treatment and equal access to opportunities, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or disability.”

What is the difference between a Diversity Policy and an Equal Opportunity Policy?

While an Equal Opportunity Policy helps ensure fair treatment and non-discrimination of employees, a Diversity Policy actively encourages having a diverse workforce with different backgrounds and perspectives.

An Equal Opportunity Policy can be an essential tool for a successful business in a world of different people. It also helps protect your business as it shows you have rules in place for dealing with potentially problematic situations that could arise.

Grievance and Complaints Policy

A Grievance and Complaints Policy outlines the process for employees to raise concerns or issues at the workplace. This is a necessary document that all business owners with employees require.

What is a workplace grievance?

A workplace grievance is a formal concern or complaint an employee raises about an aspect of their work, such as unfair treatment, safety issues, equipment or disputes with colleagues.

What is the difference between a complaint and a grievance?

While a complaint is typically a less formal expression of dissatisfaction about a minor issue, a grievance is a formal complaint about serious matters. It may involve a breach of workplace policies or laws.

Why is a Grievance Policy important?

A Grievance Policy is essential as it provides a structured process for employees to voice their concerns and seek resolution, ensuring a fair, transparent, and consistent approach to addressing issues. All businesses should have a grievance policy for their employees.

What is a grievance and complaints procedure?

A grievance and complaints procedure is a step-by-step process for handling grievances, including where and how to raise the grievance, investigate the issue, address the problem, and resolve and implement corrective measures if necessary.

A Grievance and Complaints Policy is key for harmony at work, enabling clear communication and ensuring fairness, no matter how large or small your workplace is.

WH&S (Work Health and Safety) Policy

A Work Health and Safety (WH&S) Policy outlines an organisation’s commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, establishing legally required guidelines and procedures to prevent accidents, and protecting employees from potential health hazards.

What is the purpose and scope of a WHS Policy?

A WHS Policy aims to establish a safe and healthy workplace by identifying, assessing, and controlling risks. Its scope should cover all workplace activities and apply to all employees, contractors, visitors, and anyone affected by the organisation’s operations, including remote-working employees.

What are the main elements of a WHS Policy?

Critical elements of a WHS Policy include a commitment statement, clear roles and responsibilities, procedures for identifying and controlling hazards, training and education initiatives, processes for reporting and investigating incidents, workspace requirements and regular policy reviews and updates.

What are some typical responsibilities with workplace health and safety?

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Conducting regular risk assessments.
  • Ensuring safe work practices are being followed.
  • Ensuring appropriate and safe workspaces are being used, even for remote workers.
  • Using personal protective equipment as required.
  • Reporting any health and safety concerns or incidents.
  • Participating in safety training and education.

For some workplaces, a WH&S (Work Health and Safety) Policy is indispensable for safeguarding employees, fostering a caring workplace culture, and boosting productivity. Prioritising safety ensures a thriving workforce and an accident-free culture.

14 Workplace Policies Your Business Might Need [Infographic]

infographic showing 14 workplace policies you might need
14 Workplace Policies Your Business Might Need [Infographic]

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First Aid Policy

A First Aid Policy sets the framework for promptly and effectively responding to health emergencies in the workplace, ensuring that injuries or illnesses are treated appropriately to minimise harm.

What is the purpose of the First Aid Policy?

A First Aid Policy aims to establish processes and procedures for managing health emergencies at work, thereby minimising harm from injuries or illnesses and ensuring a safe and swift response to these incidents.

Do employers have to pay for first aid training in Australia?

In Australia, employers are responsible for ensuring appropriate first aid arrangements, including providing regular and necessary training to selected employees. Hence, typically, employers bear the cost of first aid training.

How many first-aiders per worker?

The number of first-aiders per worker is flexible and depends on the nature of work, workplace size, and potential risks. Australian guidelines recommend at least one first aider for every 50 workers in low-risk workplaces and one for every 25 workers in high-risk workplaces. The risk level of the workplace depends on the type of work and workspaces, among other variables.

By prioritising a First Aid Policy, organisations demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their community, ensuring a safer environment where injuries are minimised.

Workplace Hygiene Policy

A Workplace Hygiene Policy establishes employees’ cleanliness and personal hygiene standards to ensure a safe, healthy, and comfortable work environment.

How do you address hygiene in the workplace?

Hygiene in the workplace can be addressed by implementing clear hygiene policies, regular cleanliness audits, providing necessary facilities and supplies, and encouraging employees to maintain personal hygiene.

What is an example of a Hygiene Policy?

Here is an example of a basic Hygiene Policy: “Employees are expected to maintain good personal hygiene and adhere to cleanliness standards in shared spaces. Regular handwashing, desk cleaning, and proper waste disposal are mandatory.”

How do you bring up personal hygiene with an employee?

Bringing up personal hygiene with an employee requires sensitivity and respect. It should be done privately, focusing on the impact on the workplace rather than personal habits, and solutions should be discussed in a supportive manner.

The purpose of a Workplace Hygiene Policy is more than basic cleanliness; it lays the foundation for an environment that encourages employee health, morale, and productivity.

Guest Hygiene Policy

A Guest Hygiene Policy outlines the hygiene standards expected from visitors to the workplace to maintain a clean and safe environment.

What is an example of a Guest Hygiene Policy?

Here’s an example of a simple Guest Hygiene Policy: “All guests must follow proper hygiene practices during their visit. This includes regular hand sanitising, proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and adherence to any specific rules related to our workspace.”

What is the importance of a Guest Hygiene Policy?

A Guest Hygiene Policy ensures employees’ and guests’ health and safety, reduces the risk of disease transmission, and helps maintain a clean work environment.

How do you address hygiene issues with clients?

Hygiene issues with clients should be addressed tactfully, confidentially, and professionally, focusing on the importance of hygiene for everyone’s health and safety.

By embracing this Policy, businesses can create a lasting impression that cleanliness is not just a rule but an essential part of the culture of running a successful business.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

A BYOD Policy sets the rules for employees using their personal devices (mobile phones, laptop computers, tablets, etc.) for work-related activities, balancing convenience and security.

What is a Bring Your Own Device Policy at work?

A BYOD Policy outlines the rules, responsibilities, and security measures associated with employees using their personal devices for work tasks. It may also address any support issues the business may offer, such as financial incentives and technical support for any devices used for work and personal use.

What are the pros and cons of BYOD?

Pros include cost savings, employee satisfaction, and increased productivity. Cons include business security risks, the potential for personal and work-life imbalance, and tech support challenges.

Do I need a BYOD Policy?

If employees use their own devices for work, a BYOD Policy is necessary to manage security risks and clarify rules. This needs to be clear if employees are not permitted to use their own devices for work or on work time.

What are examples of bringing your own device?

Devices typically requiring a BYOD Policy include mobile phones, laptop computers, tablets, access to the internet, etc., used to access company email, documents, or systems. A BYOD Policy may also cover using personal devices during work time.

A BYOD Policy reflects our modern work culture and can help balance personal convenience and productivity with business security and protecting corporate data.

Cyber Security Policy

A Cyber Security Policy outlines measures to help protect an organisation’s digital assets and sensitive data from cyber threats, such as hacking, phishing, malware, misuse, etc.

Do I need a Cyber Security Policy?

Yes, a Cyber Security Policy is essential to protect your organisation from increasing cyber threats and comply with new data protection laws in Australia.

How do you enforce a Cybersecurity Policy?

Enforcement involves regular audits, employee training, strict access control, monitoring, and penalties for policy breaches.

Is cybersecurity the same as data protection?

While related, cybersecurity is broader and includes protecting systems from threats; data protection specifically focuses on safeguarding personal data.

Nothing is foolproof against today’s sophisticated cybercriminals. However, having a Cyber Security Policy is the first crucial step in protecting against online dangers.

Mobile Phone in the Workplace Policy

A Mobile Phone in the Workplace Policy is the guide that saves us from turning work hours into social media marathons or accidental meme-sharing conferences. It can also protect the business from confidentiality and reputational risk issues.

Why is a Mobile Phone Policy important in the workplace?

A Mobile Phone Policy helps clarify how, when and where Mobile Phone use is appropriate. It can minimise distractions, ensure professionalism, and help maintain data security in the workplace. It must differentiate between professional business phone use and personal mobile phone use.

Are workplaces allowed to ban mobile phones?

Workplaces can set rules for mobile phone use as long as they are reasonable, clear, and consistently enforced.

How do you stop employees from using mobile phones at work?

Set clear guidelines, use disciplinary actions for repeated violations, and promote a focused work culture.

A Mobile Phone Policy is one of the most important workplace policies because it guides how we use our phones at work, helping us stay focused. In a world of digital distractions, it turns our phones from potential problems into valuable tools.

Social Media Policy

A Social Media Policy outlines appropriate work-related use of social media, guarding the company’s reputation and preventing your boss from becoming your next TikTok follower!

Why have a Social Media Policy?

A Social Media Policy mitigates risks like disclosure of sensitive information, reputational damage, and legal issues. It also provides guidelines to employees on what and when posting is appropriate or not permitted when related to any business activity.

What are the risks of not having a Social Media Policy?

Risks include damage to the company’s reputation, inappropriate disclosure of information, and potential legal problems. You don’t want an employee posting inappropriate work function photos, accidentally leaking your next new product before launch or making personal comments about the business on social media platforms.

What is an example of a Social Media Policy?

Here’s an example of a basic Social Media Policy: “Employees are expected to use work social media responsibly, uphold professionalism and confidentiality, and avoid spreading false information. Employees must always represent the organisation positively and respect the privacy of all company-related discussions. An employee should not discuss work matters on personal social media platforms.”

What should a Social Media Policy include?

A Social Media Policy statement should cover acceptable behaviour and confidentiality, highlighting potential legal issues and consequences of policy violation. It should also cover personal social media use during work hours.

How do you implement a Social Media Policy in the workplace?

Implementation involves clear communication, training, regular updates, and ensuring the Policy aligns with broader company values.

A Social Media Policy can help a business avoid the adverse consequences of social media use. In a world where one online mistake can be costly, it’s an essential guide – and one of the most important workplace policies.

Workplace Policies References

  1. Commonwealth of Australia (2004), Age Discrimination Act 2004 URL
  2. Commonwealth of Australia (1986), Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 URL
  3. Commonwealth of Australia (1992), Disability Discrimination Act 1992 URL
  4. Commonwealth of Australia (1975), Racial Discrimination Act 1975 URL
  5. Commonwealth of Australia (1984), Sex Discrimination Act 1984 URL
  6. Commonwealth of Australia (2023), Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 URL
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About the Author: Vanessa Emilio

Vanessa Emilio (BA Hons, LLB, ACIS, AGIA) is the Founder and CEO of Legal123.com.au and Practice Director of Legal123 Pty Ltd. Vanessa is a qualified Australian lawyer with 20+ years experience in corporate, banking and trust law. Click for full bio of or follow on LinkedIn.

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