Workplace Policies and Procedures

The Christmas and New Year period has come and gone. Teachers and students have now returned back to school from summer holidays for another busy and exciting school year.

Whilst there is a lot going on at the beginning of a new school year, and many issues for school principals to manage and navigate, there is also no better time to review school policies and procedures. It is important for schools to start off the new year in the right manner and ensure that all policies and procedures are implemented and monitored throughout the year.

What are workplace policies and procedures? 

A workplace policy can be broadly described as statements of principles and rules proposed by an organisation to deal with organisational activities and which aim to guide the operations of the workplace and the employees in the performance of their role.

A workplace procedure can be broadly described as the course of action employees need to adopt to comply with a workplace policy.

Workplace policies and procedures must cover an array of issues. The extent and types of policies and procedures required will be dependent upon the nature of your school and its operational requirements. Some policies and procedures that should commonly be maintained by schools include:

  • Occupational Health and Safety;
  • Child Safety;
  • Mandatory Reporting;
  • Reportable Conduct;
  • Incident Reporting;
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing;
  • Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity;
  • Staff Code of Conduct;
  • Workplace Bullying and Harassment (including sexual harassment);
  • Staff Entitlements (e.g. leave);
  • Grievance Resolution;
  • Performance Monitoring and Review;
  • Drug and Alcohol;
  • Internet, Email and Social Media;
  • Privacy;
  • First Aid, Injury Management and Return to Work;
  • Recruitment and Selection;
  • Training and Development;
  • Risk Management; and
  • Contractors, Volunteers and Visitors.
Advantages of workplace policies and procedures

The implementation of clearly established and effective policies and procedures can provide your school with the following benefits:

  1. Legal protection – Appropriately drafted workplace policies and procedures can be used to demonstrate your school’s commitment to and fulfilment of its legal obligations. This can reduce exposure to potential liabilities and assist in responding to and defending adverse claims made against your school. For example, the effective implementation of policies and procedures can delineate staff misbehaviour from organisational allowances or that the school has an established and objective process of taking reasonable management action in dealing with particular workplace incidents.
  2. Training – Effective workplace policies and procedures are a must for the proper induction, training and continuing professional development of all staff members. They can be used as a tool to communicate essential information to all staff members.
  3. Productivity – Workplace policies and procedures can provide all staff members with a clear understanding of their expected standard of behaviour and performance. By setting expectations and standards of behaviour, conduct and performance for employees, policies and procedures provide a reference point for principals to review, monitor and improve employee performance. Clearly defined roles and expectations can also reduce employee stress and anxiety.
  4. Culture – Workplace policies and procedures aid in clarifying and managing the school’s culture and any workplace issues. They assist with setting out transparent, fair, predictable and consistent approaches to dealing with workplace issues, thereby increasing staff confidence and morale.

Dangers of poorly drafted workplace policies and procedures

Neglecting your policies and procedures can come at a considerable cost to your school. Policies and procedures are only effective when they are relevant, up-to-date, regularly reviewed and followed. Whilst a school authority is never fully protected against the risk of a claim being made against them, well-documented policies and procedures can be an invaluable reference tool when managing disputes.

Conversely, inappropriately drafted policies and procedures can place onerous obligations on an employer which are difficult to meet and expose the school to legal liability if they are not strictly complied with.

It is vital to ensure that your school’s workplace policies and procedures are:

  • drafted using language which is simple, clear and precise;
  • up-to-date;
  • regularly reviewed;
  • provided to all staff members and made easily accessible;
  • the subject of ongoing training;
  • followed by all staff members and enforced consistently by management.

How can Brennan Law Partners assist?

Proper legal advice should always be sought whenever your school intends on drafting workplace policies and procedures. This will avoid the drafting of insufficient or deficient policies and procedures which do not reduce, and possibly also increase, potential liability. In addition, it is crucial to understand the legal ramifications of a workplace policy and procedure. For example, schools need to know the potential for policies and procedures to form part of the employment contracts of its staff members.

Brennan Law Partners can provide advice and guidance on appropriate policies and procedures for your school to ensure that they reflect best industry practice. We draft individualised workplace policies and procedures suited to your school environment. We also perform periodic reviews of existing policies and procedures to ensure that they continue to meet your particular needs and provide adequate protection to your school.

Contact us to review your school policies and procedures to ensure they are effective and up-to-date.

If you have any questions regarding any information in this BLP Brief, we welcome you to contact us at any time.

This is meant as a guide only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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