Get ahead by reviewing your HR documentation

Oh oh! When was the last time you reviewed your Human Resource documentation such as policies, procedures and templates?

Best practice Human Resources says that it is important to have certain documentation in place for your business, such as employment contracts, policies and procedures, remuneration and performance documentation.  It is also important to review these documents on a regular basis, making legislative and legal updates, plus updates relating to changes to your business.  

A number of methods can be put in place to assist with the review of these documents.  This includes:

  • Have in place a policy register, including a list of related templates and checklists
  • Include Human Resources documents as part of your annual business review.
  • Use automated systems and applications for flagging when documents are due for review
  • Have templates and checklists in place to begin with to facilitate an easier process of review

It is also important to communicate and enforce your policies and procedures to your employees, but  then continue to communicate these reviews and updates to your employees on a regular basis. There are a number of methods for communicating with your employees as follows:

  • Schedule the time to provide specific training, or refresher training for reviewed and updated policies and procedures, to employees and keep a record of when training occurred.
  • Place flyers and posters on notice boards in staff rooms and lunch rooms to communicate to employees relevant policies and any updates or changes.
  • Include an overview of updates and upcoming training as a regular agenda item in your team meetings
  • Include information in your regular staff newsletters

When it comes time to actually complete the review of your Human Resource documentation, the documents can be categorised into the following four areas.

Written employment contracts for all staff

Each employee should have a written employment contract outlining terms and conditions, which is signed and stored on an employee file when they start with your business. This document may be reviewed as employees progress within the business. It is also important to select the right employment type, contractor’s, permanent versus fixed term contracts and casuals.

Review that you have written contracts in place for all of your employees.

You can also use the following checklist to determine if your employment contracts contain the correct information and that it is up to date to reflect the employees current position.

–  Commencement date and employment type
–  Probation period
–  Location and alternative locations or home based work
–  Remuneration and reimbursement of expenses
–  Termination of employment

For the information your contracts do not include, investigate your options for putting this in place.

For a full list of items to include in your employment contract template, Contact Small Business Society and we can provide advice on developing employment contracts that best suit your business needs.

Documented and communicated workplace policies and procedures

Determine which of the following workplace policies and procedures your business has already and which ones your business needs.
some policies you might like to consider are

–  Code of Conduct
–  Recruitment and Induction
–  Probation  
–  Leave (including Flexible Working Arrangements and Pregnancy at Work)
–  Performance Management
–  Grievance and Dispute Resolution  

For the policies your business currently doesn’t have, investigate your options for gathering this information and implementing.  For the policies already in place conduct audits to ensure the documents are up to date with relevant legislation.

Whether you currently have no policies at all or have sound policies in place, you are required to actually enforce the policies and to properly communicate them with all employees.

The above list is just a few of the possible policies your business can include. For the full list contact Small Business Society and we can provide advice.

Employees remuneration and reward entitlements

Navigating Australia’s complex employment laws, modern awards and agreements can be hard. It is important to know the remuneration and reward entitlements for employees, including competitive salaries which address minimum wage, tax and superannuation payments as well as leave entitlements and leave loading (if applicable). Underpaying employees attracts big fines and back pay claims.

Review the following checklist and determine if you are interpreting and applying awards plus relevant legislation correctly.

–  Does the position have an applicable award?
–  What is the employees rate of pay under the award?
–  Which allowances are applicable?
–  What are the employees ordinary hours of work?
–  How many and how long are meal breaks?
–  What time and days does overtime apply and what are the rates of pay?

For the questions you are unsure of, investigate your options for gathering this information.  Or contact Small Business Society and we can assist with applying awards and legislation correctly.

Follow fair performance management practices

While you may have a valid reason to dismiss an underperforming, absent or ill employee, if you don’t follow procedural fairness, you are likely to face and potentially end up losing an unfair dismissal claim. Procedural fairness is critical to how Fair Work Australia decides unfair dismissal cases.

Review the following checklist and determine if you have the correct procedures in place for managing underperformance in your business.  (This is a suggested process and can be modified to suit your business.)

–  Identify the issue
–  Arrange a meeting with your employee
–  Discuss the issue and jointly devise a solution
–  Offer support
–  Consider next steps
–  Keep records

For the steps in the process your business does not have, investigate your options for putting this in place.

This is also just an overview of the process to get your started.  For the detailed list of processes contact Small Business Society and we can provide advice on developing a fair performance management process that best suits your needs.

In conclusion, it is important for best practice Human Resources, that your Human Resources documentation is in place for your business, but, just as important, is to ensure those documents contain up to date and reliable information.  

So take the time today to schedule a review of your business documents. Firstly to make sure the documents exist in the first place, and then secondly to check they are still relevant, accurate and meet the legislative requirements.

Or, if you are unsure where to go next, contact Small Business Society and we can step you through the process.

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.


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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


Looking for more information on the various stages of the employee life cycle or Human Resources in general?  The following may interest you.

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Processing the final pay and getting it right

Do you know your Human Resources terms?
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Plus lots more information and advice:
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