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Back to Basics: 3 Little-Known Policies that Need to Be in Your Employee Handbook

As we enter September and move into ‘back to school’ month it is the perfect time of year for a bit of a #SpringClean. This month we will be continuing our ‘back to basics’ series which we began last year when we covered, holidays, the probation period and the employment contract. This month we will cover another three topics, starting with the employee handbook.

In the past, you may have kept your handbook to a minimum for fear that employees wouldn’t read a novel-size document. You likely only included basic starter polices – code of conduct, anti-discrimination efforts and termination procedures.

However, these policies may not be enough. To better protect your employees and business, it may be time to add a few new policies. Here are three optional, but relevant, HR policies you should consider adding to the next version of your employee handbook.

Dress Code Policy

Adding a dress code policy not only makes it easier to talk to employees who may not be following the policy, but it also gives them a better understanding of what is or isn’t acceptable workplace attire and it can help managers maintain a consistent approach to the issue.

When creating a dress code policy:

  • Ensure it’s consistent with both your company culture and clients’ expectations.
  • Don’t go too extreme with specifics about the length of shorts, dresses and other attire.
  • If relevant to the job, consider including expectations regarding hygiene, grooming, tattoos and piercings.
  • In some cases, religious accommodations may be made with consideration to both personal and company expectations.

Employee Dating Policy

While you want to encourage a friendly atmosphere, an employee dating policy can help your company avoid distractions and office conflicts. Make it clear that the company isn’t interested in controlling your employees’ personal lives but aims to avoid conflicts of interest, complaints of favouritism and negative employee morale.

Common stipulations that companies include in an employee dating policy are:

  • Workplace romances are discouraged.
  • If employees become involved, they cannot report to one another and they cannot work in the same department.
  • Couples must keep it professional and not act like a couple at work – no PDA (public display of affection) or fighting during working hours is acceptable.
  • Outlined consequences for breaking these rules.

Gifts Policy

A gift policy provides guidance to company employees about what is and isn’t appropriate to accept as a gift from a customer. No matter how well-meaning or well-intentioned a gift, the potential exists for impropriety and conflict between employees to arise because of the existence and acceptance of the gift. Note, the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010 have increased the need for vigilance in this area.

  • A gift policy should communicate:
  • Whether employees are allowed to accept gifts both within and outside of the work premises.
  • If a gift is allowed, the acceptable value and type of gift permissible to employees.
  • Who may give a gift to company employees.
  • Any exemptions to the policy: exceptional situations or circumstances in which employees may accept gifts that are otherwise not allowed.

If you need help and advice regarding your employee handbook, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Emma Roberts
Latest posts by Emma Roberts (see all)
Emma Roberts

Emma is a trainee solicitor at SCE Solicitors. Emma commenced her training contract in September 2018 and is currently working in the employment law department assisting director Samira Cakali. Emma also assists in the running of the firm’s myHR service where she can support you in the day-to-day management of your staff.

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