6 key HR policies and procedures you should be implementing

6 key HR policies and procedures you should be implementing

7 September 2023

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For businesses of any size, it’s important to have an established set of key HR policies and procedures. This might not be at the top of an employer’s list of priorities, but in reality, it shouldn’t be too far down the list. The importance of HR policies and procedures is often overlooked, or misunderstood, but having procedures gives everyone a set of guidelines to work within.

Indeed has a great description of why a company should have policies and procedures and their importance, “They create a clearly defined framework that ensures that HR personnel and other employees within the business make consistent decisions. Not only are human resources policies essential for HR personnel, but all employees within an organisation can look to these procedures to understand what is expected of them and what they are entitled to”.

Let’s take a look at six key HR policies and procedures that you should be implementing in your business.


By law, even if you only employ one person, you need to have a written disciplinary policy. A disciplinary policy is crucial because let’s face it, things at some point with one employee or another, are going to go wrong – when you’re dealing with people nothing is certain. An employee might misbehave, or they won’t do their job properly, or an employee’s absence from work will become an issue and these should be dealt with by using a disciplinary policy.

By having a clear process for dealing with these matters an employer can set out its approach so that there is an understanding from all parties involved as to how things will be dealt with and the steps that will be taken. This ensures consistency and reduces the potential for unfair treatment. It’s also strongly recommended that your disciplinary policy follows the ACAS Code Of Practice, if it doesn’t and an employee is successful with a tribunal claim against you, they could receive a large payout.


As with the disciplinary policy, a grievance policy is also mandatory when a business has at least one employee. Grievances raise their head when employees are unhappy or dissatisfied with something that has happened. It could be that employees have fallen out with each other and one, or both of them, raise a grievance about the situation. It could be that an employee feels that they are being bullied or victimised, or that the way that they have been treated is unfair or even discriminatory in some way.

Again, as with the aforementioned disciplinary policy, it’s crucial to have a grievance policy in place to provide well-defined guidance, to have a framework for resolving problems fairly, consistently and reasonably, and so that all concerned understand their rights and responsibilities. Once more, the ACAS Code Of Practice sets the benchmark for the process to follow and your policy should mirror this as closely as possible to avoid any unnecessary additional risk with how grievances are handled.


As sure as night follows day, when you have employees they will at some point be unable to attend work due to sickness. It’s therefore crucial that you have a clear policy in place so that the procedure and arrangements for dealing with absence are set out in writing.

The first thing to include in your absence policy should be an outline of how and when staff are expected to make you aware of their absence. Other key elements to incorporate into your policy are the arrangements for sick notes, entitlement to sick pay and if that is statutory, or if you will offer any enhanced payments, returning to work, absence triggers and how repeated absences will be handled. Having an absence policy which provides this clarity will mean that you treat staff equitably and will ensure that you strike the right balance between dealing with genuine absence properly and the needs of your business.

Annual Leave

Employees have a statutory right to a minimum amount of annual leave from work and in the vast majority of cases, that entitlement is set out in their contract of employment. It is important to implement an annual leave policy though to ensure that staff understand the rules around booking and taking this entitlement and so that unfair treatment is avoided.

An annual leave policy should make clear the mechanism or process for employees to gain permission to take their holiday entitlement. It is common practice for employers to have minimum notice requirements for employees when requesting annual leave and to set restrictions for the amount of time off employees can take at any one time to ensure business continuity. An annual leave policy is also likely to contain details of carrying holiday entitlement forward from one holiday year to the next. Some employers allow this in certain circumstances, some don’t, and so your policy needs to be clear.

Flexible Working

Employees have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements, and following the pandemic many people want more flexibility in how, where and when they work. Research carried out by the CIPD shows that 40% of employers have seen an increase in requests for flexible working since the pandemic, so it’s vital that your business has a policy in place to make sure that you deal with these matters properly.

Your policy should lay down the statutory eligibility criteria for making flexible working requests, as well as the process for how they are dealt with. Whilst employees have a right to request flexible working, there is no automatic right to change working patterns and employers can refuse requests based on certain statutory business reasons, so employees need to understand that and how the process runs.


Employers are entrusted with a plethora of sensitive, personal information by their employees and it’s therefore incumbent on employers to look after that information securely and to meet their obligations under data protection and GDPR legislation.

Data protection laws can be complex and having a policy that everyone can understand is imperative. The policy should make clear what rights employees have in terms of how their data is handled, how you as their employer will use and store the data and who within the organisation is responsible for data protection. By having a policy on this subject, employers will demonstrate that they have a firm commitment to their data protection obligations and should reassure employees that their data is in safe hands.

Find out how HRX can help

We’ve highlighted six key HR policies and procedures every business needs to implement, no matter the size, but did you know that HR software like HRX can help you with these policies? Why not get in touch with us today to find out more, or sign up for our FREE 30-day trial to see for yourself?

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