Barack Obama was the talk of Twitter earlier this year when he announced that the United States had to do away with “workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode”. This comment was made in relation to gender equality in the workplace and Obama’s extended his views on workplace policies throughout the year, citing in June of the need for more flexible, family-friendly workplaces.

With plenty being made about recent workplace dramas in some of Australia’s leading companies, it’s important to ensure you have policies in place that cover your business in any situation, whether it be related to appropriate computer use, discrimination or harassment.

So, what are some of workplace policies you need to protect your business?

Discrimination Policy

Concerning figures were announced earlier this year, when it was found that one in two Australian women experienced discrimination during their pregnancy, parental leave, or upon returning to work (source: Law Council of Australia). The workplace should be safe and free of discrimination of any kind, and it is important that employees know they are protected throughout all stages of the employment.

An Anti-Discrimination Policy provides your business with a simple way to clarify what’s considered workplace discrimination, spells out how to report incidents of discrimination and explains the consequences of breaching this policy.

Harassment and Bullying Policy

Harassment and bullying is a risk to the health and safety of employees, and can occur in every type of workplace. A harassment and bullying policy is essential for all types of business to explain what actions classify as workplace harassment and bullying, and to clearly emphasise that these actions will not be tolerated.

You can read more about workplace bullying and harassment in this guest post from specialist workplace lawyer Michael Cosgrove.

Social Media Policy

It’s a good idea to have a social media policy in place before one of your employers posts something unforgivable that traces back to your company. Employees publicly posting abusive messages relating to their workplace or a fellow employee is perhaps the most common, and it’s important to state the consequences of this.

An effective social media policy will cover appropriate use of all social networks and touch on cyber bullying, while also confirming your stance on confidentiality, conflicts of interest and use of company property (including email address and logo).

Acceptable IT Use

Particularly important in office jobs, an acceptable IT use policy is a necessity to ensure that staff know the acceptable policies, procedures and expectations when using the company’s internet and email systems. This policy will help you deal with employees using their computers for inappropriate purposes, such as browsing certain sites and using email / instant messaging inappropriately.

It’s important that an IT use policy also stipulates any monitoring of internet and email to ensure employee expectations are immediately set.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy

Every employee needs to be responsible for behaviours that will impact on their ability to work. Drugs and alcohol abuse have no place in a workplace and will impact the performance and social behaviour of your employees.

It’s important to state your company’s policies on substance abuse to ensure employees are conscious of your expectations. If you perform routine drug tests at work, you must stipulate the procedures an employee agrees to when coming on board, and the consequences of not meeting these requirements.

Looking for workplace policies? The LawPath legal document store has a workplace policies bundle for just $199 – providing your business with 11 policies essential for all types of business.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.