HR policies and documentation for small businesses

09 December 2020

You need to make sure that your employees are protected when setting up a business.

A vital part of that process is creating HR policy documents.

Having clear HR policies ensures your employees know what is expected of them, alert them to any potential health & safety risks in the workplace and also outline what can happen if they don’t follow the rules.

These documents will make sure that your staff know their rights and also that your business is complying with UK employment law.


What is an HR policy?

An HR policy (or human resource policy) is a written document providing guidance on how to handle different issues in the workplace.

HR policies are vital to ensuring employees understand what to expect, as well as outlining their rights.

You can solve many workplace disputes quickly by having a detailed HR policy that outlines the correct way they should handle different scenarios.


What’s the difference between HR policy and HR strategy?

An HR policy is guidance provided to managers and staff that outlines the general rules of the workplace.

Whereas, an HR strategy is a more top-level goal of the people management within a company.

Your policies should determine the overall goal of your HR strategy.


What HR policies are required by law in the UK?

While you don’t need guidelines for everything, there are some HR policies required by law.

They are:

Basing your HR documents on UK law ensures that your employees are safe, they know what to do if they have a grievance and know their rights regarding dismissal.

A detailed health & safety policy can also improve staff morale, as employees can feel confident that their safety is being taken seriously.

There are other policies that, while not required, are recommended. For example, the Code of Practice to support the Equality Act 2010 recommends having an equal opportunities policy.

While other policies aren’t a legal requirement, having additional hr documents and forms can protect you from facing employment tribunals by making the rules and process clear to all employees.


Examples of HR policies and practices

Different businesses will have different HR requirements. The HR policies for a small business will differ to that of an enterprise company.

With so many different types of hr policies, it can be difficult to know what is right for your business.

Some other policies that you should consider are:

  • Harassment and discrimination.
  • Dress code and employee conduct.
  • Annual leave and breaks in the workday.

You can add these to your employee handbook to give staff a better understanding of the company.

For examples of HR policy documents, you can download our guides for creating watertight policies.


HR document management - best practices

Law requires all businesses to keep HR records related to their employees.

These records include details of:

  • Working hours.
  • Pay rates and payroll.
  • Absences and how much statutory sick pay you have paid.
  • Accidents and injuries in the workplace.

The law doesn’t dictate how you must keep these records, so it’s up to you to ensure your records are well organised.

This means that you can:

  • Keep a paper record.
  • Save digital HR documents pdfs and store them locally.
  • Take your HR policies online.

There are several things to consider when picking the best system for your hr records.

  • What are the HR policies of a company? - Determine the policies that you intend to create and outline the records you will keep.
  • How often are you going to need to access the records? - If you need to regularly update or add new records, a digital format can be more accessible.
  • How many people will need access to the records? Will an individual manage the records or will managers need access? Taking your HR online will allow individuals to access their own files to update personal information while keeping everything secure.
  • How sensitive is the information? - Storing your sensitive documents in the workplace can risk them getting damaged or falling into the wrong hands.

Our award-winning online HR software keeps your personnel records in a secure cloud storage with unlimited storage. This gives you easy access to update files wherever you are and makes sure your business is complying with employment law.


How long do you need to keep HR paperwork?

An important part of your HR document management should include when to get rid of HR records.

Holding on to everything can make it difficult to find the right document and take up precious space if using physical documents.

Also, under GDPR, you can be penalised for holding personal information longer than it’s got a business use.

There are statutory retention periods for a number of record types. HR document retention periods differ for the different records you will be keeping.

Most retention periods are three years for private companies and six years for public limited companies, but you can request an extension if there is a business requirement for it.


When to review your HR policies?

You should never consider your HR strategy complete. You should plan regular reviews of your policies to make sure that they’re still applicable.

You should also review your procedures if there are other factors that may impact the

A policy can become less useful for various reasons. Such as:

  • Changes to company size or the organisational chart.
  • Introduction of new equipment or skill types.
  • Changes to the law, for example, changes to pensions.
  • Economic factors, such as entering a recession.

Create a HR policy review process to make sure you don’t miss any potential issues when revising your documents.

The review process should include auditing the existing practices and looking for any issues created by changes to the business.

You can ask for feedback from employees and managers in areas of the business you’re less familiar with.

Once you have drafted the amended documents, test them out and ask for feedback before confirming the new policy.

This is an important step and is what makes the difference between HR policy and HR strategy, by ensuring that your policies make sense and are easy to be followed.

Our business document writing services can help whether you’re creating HR policies from scratch or updating your existing documents.

Call us on 0800 028 2420 to find out what our employment law experts can do for you.

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