Workplace Policies - What You Need to Know


Oct. 12, 2023

9 a.m. - 10 a.m.

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Whether you have a few or a few hundred employees, your priority is your business running smoothly. A business cannot run smoothly unless everyone (employer, employees, contractors, and volunteers) is on the same page about what is expected and what is not acceptable at work. When there is a problem, the best businesses will have a clear set of rules and a clear process to address the situation in order to resolve the problem and get back to business.

This is where workplace policies come in – a properly drafted workplace policy sets the expectation that an employer has for its employees, contractors, and even volunteers, and they also set out what people can expect from their employer.

Common examples of workplace policies include health and safety; drug and alcohol; violence, discrimination, and harassment; privacy and employee information; remote work and devices; accommodation and human rights; and progressive discipline.

Policies are the first step to getting everyone at work on the same page and are a strong roadmap to resolve workplace issues without creating bigger and more costly problems. In other words, well crafted policies take everyone from A to B with no surprises.

For instance, violence and harassment policies will typically outline the process for investigations and other actions when an employee reports an instance of workplace violence or harassment. The policy will tell the employee exactly how the employer will handle the situation, from the initial investigation all the way to potential action. If there is disciplinary action needed in any circumstance, policies will also help secure the employer’s rights to take appropriate action.

Policies also help employers deal with the challenges of new and changing situations. A remote work and device policy, for example, is important for keeping employees connected, and setting expectations about where and when employees are entitled to work remotely. Drug and alcohol policies are important for enduring the safety of employees when they are at work or social events organized by their employer.

In addition to creating a strong workplace, well-drafted policies have real economic benefits for employers. An accommodation policy, for example, can help avoid costly proceedings and penalties at the Human Rights Commission by ensuring that employees are reasonably accommodated as soon as an issue is communicated.

However, implementing a strong policy can be easier said than done. What does a “well-drafted” policy look like? What does a policy need in order to be “legally enforceable”? How do you present it to your employees, contractors, and volunteers? How do you enforce a policy if someone does not comply?

Bishop & McKenzie LLP’s Employment Group has extensive experience in drafting policies, and in helping employers implement and act on those policies.

Feel free to contact our Group Leads, Tara Hamelin and Kerry Lynn Okita, with any questions you might have. We are here to help you get back to your business.