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6 Must-Have Policies for Every Company

From the code of conduct to social media in the workplace

Moritz Homann Moritz Homann

    Internal company policies define how employees should behave in the workplace. They also define what employees can expect from their employer. Which policies are necessary for a company depends strongly on the corporate culture, on the legislative environment and also on the industry. Nevertheless, there are some policies which are must-haves for most companies:

    1) Code of Conduct

    A code of conduct is the basis for many policies because it defines the basic standards of company conduct. Important components of this document are for example corporate values, the protection of corporate property, dealing with corruption and conflicts of interest, but also employees’ personal and professional responsibility. Furthermore, a code of conduct should explicitly state how employees should behave if they observe a violation of the applicable rules and what the consequences of misconduct are.

    2) Policy on Equality

    An equality policy forms the basis of protection against discrimination or harassment in the workplace and helps to promote diversity. The primary objective must be to ensure that the employer does not make decisions that discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. The introduction of an appropriate policy is a clear commitment by the company and raises awareness among the entire workforce.

    3) Policy on Health and Safety at Work

    It is in every company’s interest to prevent accidents in the workplace and promote the good health of employees. This policy should document the company’s responsibilities and duties to ensure safety in the workplace. The policy should also include any procedures and instructions for work which involves particular risks and conduct in emergency situations.

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    4) Policy on the Use of Social Media and the Internet

    These days the definition of what constitutes professional and private use of the internet and social media is a very grey area. All the more reason that every company should introduce a policy to educate employees. In particular, this policy should stipulate what employees may and may not share online and which rules apply to the use of the company’s own IT infrastructure. The policy should aim to strike a balance between the employee’s personal rights and the employer’s interests.

    5) Policy on Data Protection

    At the latest since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, data protection has been a hot topic in every company. The legal requirements concern both the personal data of employees and customer data. In order to reduce the risk of a data protection violation, every company should introduce a data protection policy. In particular, it should stipulate how the company uses personal data and what measures the company is taking to protect data.

    6) Policy on Working Times, Absences and Holidays

    Companies would be well advised to clarify any possible ambiguities concerning working hours, absences and holidays, thus preventing potential disputes. For example, this policy should state what the minimum and maximum weekly working time is, what the rules are for taking breaks, how working time can be arranged and what should be recorded. The relevant labour law should also govern rules regarding overtime and holiday entitlements.

    Bottom Line

    Companies should always introduce policies based on a company-specific risk assessment. In addition, companies should regularly review whether a new policy is necessary if and when changes occur in the company or within the legislative environment. Careful introduction and communication of policies within the company is vital.

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    Moritz Homann
    Moritz Homann

    Managing Director Corporate Compliance – EQS Group | Moritz Homann is responsible for the department of Corporate Compliance products at EQS Group. In this function, he oversees the strategic development of digital workflow solutions tailored to meet the needs of Compliance Officers around the world.

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