HR policies for small organisations

Even a small organisation needs certain HR policies, but they don’t need to be long or complicated.  It’s important that they’re tailored to suit your organisation.  For example it’s no good having two levels of appeal against a disciplinary decision if you don’t have enough senior people to hear the appeals.

  • Disciplinary policy – this sets out how you will deal with poor performance or misconduct.  It should comply with the ACAS Code of Practice as employment tribunals will refer to this and penalise employers who have breached it.  A particular requirement is to have clear written procedures about how disciplinary issues will be handled.
  • Grievance policy – this explains how you will respond to a complaint from an employee.  As with your disciplinary policy it should comply with the ACAS Code of Practice.
  • Health and safety policy – this is required by law if you employ 5 or more people.  It should state who is responsible for various important aspects of health and safety and show that you have assessed risks and planned for fire evacuations.
  • Sickness policy – this states how you expect employees to report sick, what sick pay you will pay and how you will address frequent or long-term sickness absence.  If you don’t have one it will be difficult to deal with sickness situations.
  • Termination of employment policy – this sets out the procedure for dismissing an employee and the circumstances in which this would be necessary such as gross misconduct, excessive sickness absence or redundancy.  If you don’t have a policy covering this you are likely to run into trouble when trying to dismiss someone.  There are various statutory requirements such as providing any employee with 12 months service with written reasons for dismissal.
  • Code of conduct  – it is useful to have a short statement of your expectations of your employees regarding confidentiality, data protection, behaviour towards customers and colleagues, care not to bring the company into disrepute, etc.  This can prevent problems by ensuring that employees are aware of your requirements.  You can also refer back to this policy if your employee behaves in a way that is not acceptable.
  • Equality and diversity – this is a statement that you aim to support equality and diversity in your organisation.  There are many equality duties on employers regarding fair treatment and avoidance of discrimination.  You might want to highlight these in your policy so that your staff are aware.
  • Keeping policies up-to-date

    Employment legislation changes come into force twice a year – in April and October.  Ideally you should check at these times to see whether there is anything which will affect your policies.  Generally changes which will impact employers are well reported in advance so if you are keeping an eye on the professional journals or even just watching the news you should pick up on the big changes.

Comment from client

We asked Judith to help us with HR policies. She talked to us first about how our staffing practices worked so that she could tailor the documents to suit our small organisation. We were pleased with her approach and the resulting policies, which were easy to understand and set out clearly how we should deal with things.  We thought she was good value for money, which was important for us as a charity, and easy to work with.

 Chair of Trustees