Is It A Legal Requirement to Have Workplace Policies?
Workplace Policies

Is It A Legal Requirement to Have Workplace Policies?

Every business can benefit from having good workplace policies and procedures – small or large! Policies put in place by employers describe what is expected from all employees and management. Most policies in the workplace are put in place by HR teams and often they are displayed in the employee handbook.


What Are Workplace Policies?

Policies are an essential tool for all employers that allow businesses to communicate company culture, values, procedures and systems. Workplace policies help everyone in an organisation get on the right page – creating a framework of the expectations and responsibilities of the employer.

Having written policies and procedures ensures there is a consistent approach to certain situations – This can help protect an organisation from grievances and legal proceedings. Both employees and senior management will know how to deal with specific situations in the workplace. Most policies in the workplace are not required by UK law currently, however, many are strongly recommended to protect employees and the employer. There is a wide range of potential policies companies can adopt to guide their organisation in the right direction and protect employees statutory rights.


Which Policies Are Required By Law?


There are two main policies and procedures that are expressly required by law and these are;


Employers that have five or more employees must have a Health and Safety policy in place. This policy sets out the arrangements that have been made to keep employees, visitors and customers safe at the workplace.


In addition, employers must write a statement of the terms and conditions of employment!

This should include information on the disciplinary/dismissal and grievance procedure – Most companies decide to have a specific policy to cover these issues.

This ensures employees are well informed on the companies key policies and procedures.


If (after an assessment) there is found to be a risk of employees carrying out acts of bribery, it is also a legal requirement to have an anti-bribery policy in place.

Under UK law, it is illegal to give, offer, promise, agree, accept or receive a bribe. Having an anti-bribery policy in place protects the organisation from any legal proceedings.


Other Useful Policies


There is a wide range of additional policies that are useful for companies to implement.

The majority of policies in the workplace help businesses to stay compliant with UK law.

The policies that employers choose to use should be appropriate to the business and help achieve your business goals.


Equality & Diversity Policy and Equal Opportunities PolicyEquality Act (2010)

This is a written commitment to equality for all employees, helping to ensure nobody in the organisation is discriminated against particularly in areas like pay, training and recruitment.


There are nine protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act (2010) which include; sex, age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment (transgender people), pregnancy/maternity and marriage or civil partnership.


Sickness and Absences Policy


Many companies decide to implement these policies to ensure absent employees are managed in a consistent and supportive manner.

This ensures the business stays operational and customer service levels remain high.


A sickness and absences management policy can help make sure employees always attend work when they’re able – while also understanding that time off is usually important for sick employees.

This policy also sets out the disciplinary process for employees who abuse their time off, which acts as a deterrent for many.


Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy


Harassment in the workplace is unlawful and can lead to expensive employment tribunals for the employer and employee. Examples of harassment or bullying include unfair treatment, spreading rumours, denying training/promotion and undermining or picking on someone. Harassment and bullying doesn’t just happen face to face – it can be online, by phone or by letter. If an employee is made to feel humiliated, intimidated, offended or degraded it is legally classed harassment.


Data Protection Policy Data Protection Act (2018)

This new legislation sets out the requirements when processing and managing data. Any employee who handles personal data has to follow strict rules to make sure all data is used fairly and lawfully.

Personal data should be used in the way it was specified and should not be kept for longer than needed. Data should also be up to date and handled securely. For sensitive data, there is stronger legal protection – For example, information including race, political/religious beliefs, biometrics and health.


Alcohol and Drugs Policy


Under the Health and Safety Act (1974), employers are legally required to protect employees welfare, health and safety. Identifying the signs of alcoholism and/or drug misuse/abuse can help when managing health and safety in the workplace. Developing a policy specifically concerning the misuse of alcohol and drugs helps employers deal with and support employees with alcohol or drug problems.

This policy can also outline the organisation’s drug/alcohol screening and testing procedures.


Parental Policies


This can include maternity, paternity and adoptive leave/pay. Employees expecting to have a child are legally entitled to paid leave to look after the new child.

For maternity, all employees are entitled to 52 weeks leave, which can be taken at any time after the first two to four weeks. When concerning paternity, employees are entitled to two weeks leave which can be taken whenever it is convenient for the parents. Employees may be able to take this as paid leave if they are responsible for the child’s upbringing. If an employee is adopting a child, they could be eligible for up to 52 weeks of statutory adoption leave (paid for 39 weeks).

Having parental policies in place can help employees understand when and how much leave they can take. It can also prevent grievances and employment tribunals, ensuring your management staff know how to deal with these situations.

When organisations have clear policies and procedures it can help with the smooth running of a business. Plus, having written policies can help businesses stay in compliance with the relevant UK employment laws.


If your business needs help with HR and Health & Safety policies, contact Wurkplace by calling 0330 400 5490 or email To see our comprehensive array of online training courses, click here!


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