Workplace Policy Manuals

14. September 2021 0

A comprehensive employee policy manual is an excellent tool for onboarding, a great reference source for existing employees, and can provide you with convenient coaching materials.  But your policy manual will only provide these benefits if it is comprehensive and well written.  Your policy manual can provide information related to your workplace’s history, mission, and values and can provide guidance on various policies, procedures and benefits.  Having all of this information in one place can lessen the number of questions that your HR team has to deal with, can make employees feel more part of the organization, and ultimately can also provide protection for the employer in the event of discrimination or bullying and harassment complaints.  It is a document that should be reviewed annually to ensure that it contains policies that remain relevant to your organization, that it has all the policies that your company needs and that the policies are compliant with Employment Standards Legislation and changes to the law. 

When reviewing your employee policy manual, a good starting point is to do a general review to ensure that the policies remain relevant for your workplace.  Your policy manual should be tailored to the specifics of your workplace and should contain only policies that are necessary to your workplace.  A good second step is to ensure that your policy manual has covered off all necessary areas.  Are there holes in your manual that should be filled with new policies?  Some policies that you should consider having in your manual include the following:

  • Code of conduct including potentially a dress code
  • Bullying and harassment policy including a clear policy relating to reporting of concerns
  • Remote work policy
  • Communications policy
  • Internet use policy
  • Non-discrimination policy
  • Leave policy
  • Drug and alcohol policy
  • Overtime policy

Ensure that all of your policies are compliant with regulatory requirements and be mindful that regulatory requirements often change.  An example of this would be your leave policy.  Ensure that your leave policy at a minimum satisfies the requires of the Employment Standards Act.  Those requirements changed with the onset of the pandemic.  Another example would be your bullying and harassment policy.  It must satisfy the requirements set out by WorkSafe or you will be found to be in contravention of their requirements.

If changes are incorporated into your workplace policy manual it is a great time to remind existing employees of the existence of the manual.  Ask that they review the manual at the time that changes are incorporated and have all employees sign to indicate that they are aware of the policies.

An annual review of your employee policy manual is a proactive step that you can take to decrease the potential of claims, increase employee engagement and streamline your HR processes.

This update was authored by Harper Grey lawyer, Rose Keith, QC. Have questions regarding the topic discussed? Contact Rose at or anyone else listed on the authors page.