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Should you include your policies and procedures as part of your employment contracts?

by , 11 October 2013
Having policies and procedures in place helps ensure you comply with your obligations to be fair and consistent while dealing with discipline, performance issues and grievances in the workplace. Some employers choose to make their policies a part of their employees' contracts and some choose not to. Here are the pros and cons of both situations.

There are advantages and disadvantages to including your policies and procedures as part of your employment contracts and not doing so.

So is it a good idea to include your policies and procedures in your employment contracts?

If you include your policies in your employment contracts, you can't unilaterally change them. You'd need consent from your employees if you want to make changes.

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that this means you'll have limited flexibility in an area which forms part of your employees' rights. It's your prerogative as an employer to introduce policies and procedures and to change them as you see fit as your business needs change.

You could end up in a situation where different versions of your policies and procedures apply to different employees depending on when they were hired.

But it's not all bad news.

The good news is, if your policies and procedures form part of the contract, you can then claim a breach of contract as an additional ground when your employee disobeys the policy or doesn't follow the procedure.

But beware, the opposite's also true. You can be sued for breach of contract if you don't follow your policies and procedures to the letter.

You can also easily prove an employee's knowledge of rules and regulations. You can simply hand in the contract he signed with the relevant annexures if you need to.

But make sure you keep your administration in order for this to work so you have accurate records of who signed what.

What happens when your policies and procedures don't form part of your employment contracts?

If you don't want to include your policies and procedures in your employment contract, you can use this sample clause: 'The company issues (and may change) various rules, regulations, policies and procedures from time to time.'

In addition, tell all your employees to familiarise themselves with these documents and stick to them. You can rely on this clause to argue that your employee knew he had to stick to the policies.

But 'it's up to you to make sure you keep proper records of when and how, policies were issued so you can prove the employee knew, or must've known, about them, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Well there you have it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both alternatives. You need to think about what suits your business best.



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