Basic Office Policies

Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Having a list of company policies benefits your small business because it lays out expectations for workplace conduct and shares key information about topics such as employee compensation, job performance expectations and ethics. In addition to guiding your employees in how to behave, office policies provide valuable documentation for management for handling worker performance issues and job responsibilities.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Some examples of office policies for your small business relate to workplace safety, information security, recruitment and separation, employee benefits and job attendance.

Company Hiring Policies

Your company's list of HR policies should clarify your company's hiring practices in terms of not discriminating against applicants based on characteristics protected by law. At the same time, it should address any specific requirements applicants should know.

For example, if you run a medical office that is tobacco free and requires extensive background checks and a health exam, you should include this information in your hiring policies.

Tardiness and Absence Policies

Your list of company policies also needs to address employee attendance expectations that deal with tardiness and absence. In addition to mentioning a requirement that employees clock in on time, you should also explain the consequences of tardiness, including any disciplinary measures or impact upon pay. If employees face suspension or termination after a number of incidents, the policy should clarify this.

Employees should also know the requirements for calling off work, including any documentation needed for incidents such as illness. The policy should explain whom employees need to contact, how they can do so and when they should do so, and it should address any limits on absences within a specific time frame along with resulting consequences. You might also include separate details on how your company handles employees who do not show up for work.

Break and Time-Off Policies

Your office policies should mention whether employees get breaks and lunches during their shifts, how many they receive based on work hours, whether these breaks are mandatory and whether workers will get paid. You can use state laws for guidance in creating this policy or offer break time beyond the legal requirements. When discussing breaks, you might address issues like working during break time, emergency breaks and special breaks, such as for breastfeeding mothers and those with medical needs.

You also need to address the handling of planned days off, vacation time and extended leave for issues such as personal illness, pregnancy or pursuit of education. For planned days off, employees should know the process for asking for time off and whether they will get paid for it.

For extended leaves, mention how long employees can take off, how compensation and benefits work during that time and which procedures employees must follow for requesting these leaves. For leaves with legal requirements, such as those relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act, your policy should follow those requirements and explain any implications to the employee's job status.

Compensation and Benefits Policies

Another office policy to include explains how and when your company compensates workers. This includes stating whether you offer an hourly wage, a set salary or use a system that pays based on performance. If you offer incentives, your policy should clarify which requirements workers must meet and how often they can receive this additional compensation.

You should also include how often you review for pay increases and how you compensate workers for overtime, holidays and special work hours like overnight and weekend shifts.

Your list of HR policies should also explain the benefits you provide to workers and which conditions they must meet to gain access. This includes things like retirement plans, insurance offerings, wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, flexible work options and relocation benefits. For example, you might specify that employees must work a specific number of hours regularly to gain access to health insurance and be with the company a few months in order to enroll.

Internet Access and Electronics Policies

Since your employees likely use mobile devices and computers throughout the work day, your office policies need to demonstrate acceptable technology usage and explain requirements that will keep your workforce productive and avoid security issues.

You might include policies that employees only access work data within the office, limit personal calls and texts, avoid browsing questionable websites and stay off social media while on the clock. You might also mention that employees should not share private company information online or share their passwords.

You should also include requirements for caring for and using company-issued electronics. For example, you might require continual use of firewall and anti-virus software on company laptops and ban the installation of third-party applications without prior company approval. You can also explain the consequences of breaking or losing company-issued devices, such as paying any costs incurred and other disciplinary measures.

Workplace Safety Policies

Your company policies should explain how the company works to keep employees safe and also make known safety expectations for employees. You might explain your company's emergency management plan, requirements for employee training sessions and frequency of workplace safety audits.

Employees should also know how to do their jobs safely and how to report issues they notice. For example, you might cover the use of gloves and other protective garments, safe lifting, machine operation and avoidance of creating hazardous situations like blocking emergency exits.

Your safety policies should also address the topic of workplace violence and harassment and how employees should respond when they feel threatened. For example, your policy may state that any kind of workplace violence or harassment is unacceptable and should be reported to HR and a building safety officer as soon as possible. You should also explain any resources that you offer to victims, such as mental health counseling or medical compensation.

Workplace Health Policies

You should also lay out expectations in terms of employee substance use. For example, you might mention that drinking alcohol while at work is inappropriate and that employees must not use any recreational drugs off or on the clock. If your company has a tobacco policy, you should address this as well.

Also let employees know in your policies if they are subject to any random or planned drug or tobacco screenings.

Company Separation Policies

You should lay out expectations for employees when it comes to leaving the company voluntarily or involuntarily. This might include any formal notice requirements employees should follow and policies regarding the loss of access to company systems, property and information. This policy should also address any non-disclosure agreements and the requirement to not share confidential company information upon departure.

Other Basic Office Policies

Your list of company policies can also address other expectations for employee conduct, such as:

  • Dress code: You should clarify whether employees need to wear uniforms and what standards there are for casual or business dress. You might specify whether your company has special dress days like casual Fridays or whether the company requires certain colors to be worn. You can also address any exceptions for religious or health reasons.

  • Workplace relationships: Your policies might address the handling of friendships in the company and the expectation that employees stay productive and avoid bringing personal arguments into the office. In the case of dating, you might prohibit supervisors from dating those under them and require the reporting of workplace dating relationships to human resources.

  • Workplace visitors: Employees should know which visitors are appropriate and how to verify them when needed. They should also know what areas visitors should avoid and how to log guests for security purposes.

  • Job performance and discipline: Your office policies should spell out requirements for acceptable job performance and the handling of performance and conduct issues. You should explain your company's disciplinary system in terms of warnings, write-ups, suspensions and termination.

  • Workplace solicitation: Your employees should know when they are allowed to solicit their co-workers for things like donations and attendance at personal events. Mention any types of prohibited solicitation, such as religious, commercial and political activities.

References

About the Author

Ashley Donohoe started writing professionally about business topics in 2010. Having eight years experience running all aspects of her small business, she is knowledgeable about the daily issues and decisions that business owners face. She also has earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a leadership and strategy concentration from Western Governors University. Some other places featuring her business writing include JobHero, LoveToKnow, PocketSense, Chron and Study.com.