Quick Guide to Company Policies

No matter the industry, every organisation needs policies to operate effectively and successfully. We have put together this quick guide to navigating policies to ensure your business is running successfully and reducing the risk of liability


Company policies are written documents that establish expectations and provide guidance on how to handle workplace situation consistently and fairly. As they also provide direction regarding what is appropriate and what is not across a range of topics, they are key to the successful management of your team.

Together, when implemented properly, they guide your organisation and reduce the risk of liability. In addition, they promote consistency across the organisation for both employees and customers.

This consistency builds a healthy reputation for your organisation, especially regarding employee touchpoints and with customers.


Without adequate and well-developed policies, there are essentially no rules. And unfortunately, without defined rules, this allows people to create their own.

Policies provide employees a well-rounded view of the workplace, allowing them to know the culture that the organisation is striving for, the acceptable behaviours, and how to achieve them.

Workplace policies can be seen as long and voluminous however, in practice, a well-drafted set of workplace policies can play an essential role in protecting the employer’s interests while creating a positive workplace culture for everyone.

Policies can also:

  • Increase compliance with internal and external requirements;
  • Improve internal processes;
  • Help you navigate incidents and crises;
  • Let employees know where they can turn for help; and
  • Enable consistent processes & structures.


For most businesses, Edwards HR suggests the following key policies as a starting point:

  • Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination Policy (which includes sexual harassment)
  • Code of Conduct
  • Drug & Alcohol Policy (and associated procedure)
  • IT Policy
  • Leave Policy
  • Mobile Phone Use Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Uniforms & Dress Standards Policy
  • Vehicle Use Policy (covering company vehicles and personal vehicles used for work purposes)
  • Working from Home Policy (if applicable)

There are many other policies that may also be essential depending on the size and nature of your business, and the industry you operate in.


Policies do not serve their purpose if they sit on the shelf and no one ever looks at them.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend policies are reviewed and updated at least annually and each time there is a change to legislation, and a refresher completed with the team annually. This ensures your policies are always up to date and suitable for your business, and your employees are aware of the company’s requirements and their responsibilities.

With the recent changes to the discrimination protected attributes, introduction of Psychosocial Hazards and changes to Sexual Harassment, businesses should consider reviewing their policies with urgency to ensure they are compliant.


Only having a policy in place will not be enough when it comes to disputes and unfair dismissal claims.

 There are some interesting cases which demonstrate why policies must cover all relevant topics and be effectively utilised within an organisation:

  • Reinstated after lodging an unfair dismissal claim: An employee with 26 years’ service tried cocaine with friends on a day off, thinking it would be out of his system in 4 days’ time when he returned back to site. On commencement, he returned a positive result on a random drug test for cocaine metabolite. He was sacked for breaching the company’s Drug and Alcohol Policy. The Fair Work Commission found that there was no evidence the employee was impaired due to the cocaine and the positive reading revealed a “very low dosage” in his system. The employer was ordered to reinstate him.
  • Awarded $10,000 due to unfair dismissal: A manager at an insurance company was dismissed for downloading “hard-core pornography” on his work computers and phone, and storing many explicit images, including a video of himself engaging in sexual acts. The dismissal was found to be unfair and the employee awarded $10,000 because (in part), the employer did not have a policy which prohibited using work computers other than for work purposes.

For some areas of law, such as sexual harassment,  there is also a requirement to run policy training sessions and implement proactive measures to ensure compliance with the new positive duty obligations, for example.


  1. It is important to view policies as vital components for how your business operates and not just a compliance requirement as they are essential to the success of a business.
  2. Ensure that every new employee is given a set of the organisations policies with their new starter documents and cover your policies and their requirements during the induction process.
  3. Don’t just “set & forget” (once your policies have been written) but rather, continuously review and make any necessary changes at least annually to ensure they are all up to date.
  4. Following point 3, ensure your employees are also re-trained in all company procedures every 1-2 years – this is crucial if you need to rely on this training for any reason in future. It’s easiest to do one or two at a time during a team or toolbox meeting.
  5. If you are introducing new policies, be sure to seek feedback from your employees before you roll them out.
  6. Company policies should work alongside your employment agreement – to find out more, read our Quick Guide to Employment Agreements here.
  7. Consider attending our Workshop on Policies & Procedures on 13 May or 30 July 2024. Contact our team on 07 3568 0866 for more info or to make a booking.


Speak with the team at Edwards HR about reviewing, updating your current policies,  preparing new ones and compliance with the new employer positive duty obligations.

We are the leaders in HR for heavy industry for good reason – we just get it – so we’ll ensure your policies cover everything you need so your team know what’s expected and your businesses interests are protected.

Stay up to date with all the upcoming changes via our LinkedIn Newsletter below.

For more guidance about this update, or to find out how Edwards HR can support your business, contact our team today on 07 3568 0866.

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